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April 29, 2008 - Image 5

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2008-04-29

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

i5

Donating a new
solution

Finding the perfect match

At this moment, more than
98,000 Americans are
waiting for life-saving
organs.Eighteen
of these indi-
viduals die each
day, still wait-
ing. What can
be done about
the gap between
those waiting
for transplants TOM
and the number MICHNIACKI
of organs cur-
rently available?
The government could continue
to air expensive public service
announcements promoting dona-
tion. Organizations such as Donate
Life America could launch costly
nationwide efforts to increase the
availability of organs for transplan-
tation, as they already regularly do.
But a superior solution to the organ
and tissue shortage is an alteration
of the current laws surrounding
donation.
As it stands, an individual must
consent during his or her lifetime
to be an organ donor. In Michigan,
one can become a donor by filling
out the Michigan Organ Donor
Registry form online. Once the
form is processed, you'll receive
a small heart-shaped sticker to
put on the front of your driver's
license. While this process isn't
overly complicated, it still requires
some effort and knowledge of the
process on the part of the person
wishing to become a donor. But
a person desperately in need of a
heart transplant shouldn't have to
count on someone else's motivation
or awareness to be offered a second
chance at life.
The United States's current
consent-based method of organ
donation must be overhauled.
One alternate option that has seen
success in other countries is the
presumed-consent-with-opt-out
system. In this system, every indi-
vidual is automatically placed on
the donor registry. Only by spe-
cifically requesting to be removed
from the registry or through family
objection if no request is specified
could a hospital be prevented from
harvesting an individual's organs
for transplantation. This change
would ensure that many more indi-
viduals would receive the trans-
plant they need.
This new approach would result
in considerably higher donation
rates. Spain requires individuals to
opt out of organ and tissue donation
and, as a result, has a higher donor

ratethaneitherthe United States or
the United Kingdomboth of which
currently utilize consent-based
systems. If the United States's cur-
rent attitude towards donation is
altered, studies indicate that the
percent increase in the availability
of organs would range from 16 to
50 percent. It has also been shown
that the list of those waiting for
organs in countries with presumed
consent with opt out systems is
substantially shorter than it is in
the United States.
Patient right organizations con-
tend that the decision about giving
one's organs should only be left to
patients and their families. But the
opt-out method lets the patient
decide the fate of his or her organs
after death. If an individual or their
family is uncomfortable with the
donation process, they can easily be
removed from the donor registry.
The alternate system also works
to rectify another major social
problem. With the long waiting list
in the United States, those who are
financially secure are often forced
Why consent is
overrated
to travel to developing countries
to obtain black market organs in
order to survive. The practice is
currently thriving in countries like
South Africa and India. Black mar-
ket organ donation has garnered
so much attention that it has even
been termed "transplant tourism."
In this thriving underground mar-
ket, poor individuals sell kidneys
for $800 a piece. Selling a kidney is
especiallydangerous, asthesurger-
ies to remove the organs are often
done in less than sanitary condi-
tions. Having sold a kidney also
leaves an individual vulnerable to
death if a problem arises with their
remaining kidney.
While public service announce-
ments and national campaigns to
promote donor registration are
undoubtedly assisting current
crises, only a major overhaul in
the current laws will truly solve
the problem. But until laws are
altered, please discuss organ and
tissue donation with your family
and friends and join the Michigan
Donor Registry at www.giftoflifem-
ichigan.org.
Tom Michniacki is an LSA senior.
He can be reached at tmich@umich.edu

was one of those hopelessly
romantic college freshmen
who had her entire life
mapped out.
Inhighschool,
I developed
my first seri-
ous relation-
ship - with a
career in edu-
cation. I knew-
this love would SHAKIRA
last forever and SMILER
had my entire
college career
planned before orientation.
After freshman year, I realized
that that partnership wasn't mak-
ing me as happy as I had hoped.
So my buddies at the Career Cen-
ter introduced me to a new boo,
an English concentration. That
worked out for about a semester
until I took yet another English
Department requirement. At that
point I realized I would rather
spend the rest of my life making
Hot-and-Ready pizzas at Little
Caesars than read another one of
Shakespeare's damn sonnets.
I was completely frustrated
because, like a lot of students, I
had been in multiple relationships
that just didn't work out. And now
I found myself married to a major
that bored the hell out of me. To
put the icing on the cake, I was
struggling to pass required class-
es that were of no interest or rel-
evance to me.
I was disappointed with the
English department to say the
least. So I continued to search for
love with a few Women's Studies
and Center for Afroamerican and

African Studies courses. Through
these, I realized that I really want-
ed to study both subjects as well
as English while also dabbling in
Communications a bit.
But I had no idea how to make
this happen. After a private break-
down inmy dormroom, I met with
an academic advisor who told me
about a very low-key and .little-
known "Bachelor" that ended
up being my perfect match - the
"Bachelor" of General Studies. I
quickly signed the divorce papers
and moved in with my new lover.
The BGS gets a bad rap. Lots of
people criticize it unfairly before
they get to know it, but it really
has a lot of great qualities. In purs-
ing a Bachelor's of General Stud-
ies degree, I have the freedom to
study all four of my interests with-
out beingin school for anextratwo
years. Most of my classes have to
be 300-level or above, but they're
the more interesting ones anyway.
A BGS is perfect for students seek-
ing an intense curriculum spread
across more than one department.
I often wonder why the entire
Literature, Science and Arts-pro-
gram isn't structured more like
the BGS. Why do I have to pay
$25,000 to struggle through a
foreign language? And why am I
waking up at 7:00 am for Natural
Science credits when I don't give
a damn about coral reefs? BGS lets
you explore different areas while
also narrowingyour own interests.
And isn't that what college is for?
Isn't it supposed to be about dis-
covering who you really are? You
can't do that when you're thrown
a giant course "guide but told the

only ones that really "count for
something" are the top five most
boring classes.
The only concern I have with
my boyfriend General Studies is
that its name is ugly. We worry
that it won't find a job because
its name doesn't reflect its abili-
ties or the rigor of its coursework.
Despite its ugly name, though, I've
learned more in this relationship
than in any other since I've been
at the University. I enjoy all of my
How I found
true love in
General Studies
classes now, and I sleep easier at
night because I stopped worrying
about requirements and started
learning.
Thanks to the Bachelor of Gen-
eral Studies, I have that flexibility
and I've taken back control of my
education, which has allowed me
to fall in love with college again.
Shakira Smiler is an LSA junior. She
can be reached at stsmiler@umich.edu
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Readers are encouraged to submit
letters to the editor. Letters should
be less than 300 words and must
include the writer's full name and
University affiliation. All submissions
become property of the Daily. We do
not print anonymous letters. Send let-
ters to tothedaily@umich.edu.

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