Making a Difference…After Death

IndyCar driver Justin Wilson died after suffering injuries sustained during a race accident. The 37-year-old driver was struck in the head by debris from another driver’s car during the single-seater series at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, according to

The loss of this bright, rising star was devastating to his family, friends, loved ones, and the racing community in general. However, one bright spot in this moment of darkness is the fact that Wilson was an organ donor and that decision made a tremendous impact on the lives of others in need.

Wilson’s younger brother Stefan, who is also an IndyCar driver, revealed that his brother’s organs helped to “save six lives today.”

“He just keeps setting the bar higher,” tweeted Wilson, who is also a competitor in IndyCar, according to the aforementioned article.

Wilson’s story may, hopefully, help dispel some of the myths and inaccuracies surrounding organ donation.  For example, some people mistakenly believe that if they agree to donate their organs upon their death, the hospital staff will not work as hard to save their life. This is non-sense. When you go to the hospital for treatment, especially with life-threatening injuries, doctors and medical staff focus 100 percent on trying to save your life. Remember, doctors do not profit from organ donation. They are focused on helping patients and saving lives.

Another common myth is that an open-casket funeral will not be an option for people who have donated their organs or tissues. Again, this is totally false. Organ and tissue donation does not affect whether you can have an open-casket funeral. Your body is clothed for an open-casket funeral, so there are no visible signs of organ or tissue donation. For bone donation, a rod is inserted where bone is removed. With skin donation, a very thin layer of skin similar to a sunburn peel is taken from the donor’s back, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Another misconception is that you have to be in perfect health to be an organ donor. This is not true. Very few medical conditions automatically disqualify someone from donating their organs. The decision to use an organ is based on specific medical criteria. It is true that certain organs may not be suitable for a transplant, but other organs and tissues may be perfectly fine to use to help another person in their time of need.

Some people mistakenly think that their family will be charged if they donate their organs. False.

Your family is never charged for your donation of organs and/or tissue. In fact, any costs associated for organ removal go to the transplant recipient, not to your family.

As you can see, choosing to be an organ donor is a net positive that will not hurt your family financially and can help save lives. Justin Wilson is a prime example of that. Even after his death, he made a significant difference in the lives of others. That will be part of his legacy.