Why our culture keeps us from saving lives

What happens after Mexican medics drop a human heart on concrete during their rush to the hospital to be used in a transplant? Well, apparently the two men can now breathe easier after it was still successfully put into a woman who is now on her way to recovery.

This heart-warming ending to the story that had ridiculed the red-faced medics world-wide two weeks ago comes on the heels of another hospital in Mexico doing a record number of heart transplants in the past year. With 4 out of every million people donating their organs in Mexico, it made me think: just how many of us here in the US are registered organ donors?

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According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 donor can save up to 8 lives and 18 people will die each day waiting for an organ. That's a depressing statistic, isn't it? But no matter how sad the numbers are, growing up in a Hispanic family my parents were always weary of signing up to become a donor.

When I turned 18 and registered as a donor, it was really frowned upon. But I couldn't help thinking of, if something happened to me, the chance to save a life like that of 27-year-old Erika Hernandez in Mexico.

There's definitely something about our culture that keeps more of us from being organ donors. Usually it can be a religious reason. My mom, for instance, never liked the idea of a burial with some of my inner parts missing. Though if my heart or lungs can save the life of one or two or five others, why not?

In the end, organ donation is a personal choice. It's a tricky process and there's no guarantee that somebody will be a match. But if my biology can one day help another Latina be a match, I'll continue to checking that box when I renew my driver's license.

Do you think it is important to be a registered organ donor as a Latina? How do you feel about signing up as a registered donor?

Image via Andy G/flickr

Topics: health care  latino health