The gift of organ donation is priceless

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DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I would like to take organ donation a step further and donate my body to science. If any part of me can help find a cure for a disease or help someone live longer, I will have been of some use to my fellow human beings. Furthermore, it would save my family the expense of a funeral. How do I go about setting this up? — D.C.

ANSWER: I believe you mean you would like all usable organs to be donated for use in others. For this, you deserve kudos. You can learn all the facts you need by visiting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at http://organdonor.org.

The site has you select your home state. You will then be put on that state’s donor registry. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) contracts with the Department of Health to maintain a central network, open all hours and all days. It facilitates the identification of a suitable donor for a suitable recipient. A hospital with a donor alerts the local Organ Procurement Organization, and a representative immediately visits the hospital to see if the donor organs are acceptable. You or your family doesn’t have to do a thing. Enrolling with the Department of Health is all you need to do.

You deserve a pat on the back. If more people were like you, the desperate deficit of organs would not exist. Age is not an impediment to donation. Neither are most illnesses. You do need to emphasize to your relatives your desire, and having it put on your driver’s license also helps.

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DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am an 80-year-old woman who has been diagnosed with collagenous colitis.

I have been treated with sulfasalazine, but had to discontinue it because of side effects. I am now taking cholestyramine. It helps some. What do you think of Imodium? I really need a stable treatment. — J.P.

ANSWER: Just about everyone has heard of colitis. It’s inflammation of the colon. It’s a word that applies to many different illnesses.

Just about no one has heard of collagenous colitis. “Collagenous” indicates that beneath the lining surface of the colon, an excessive amount of collagen has been deposited. Collagen is a protein found throughout the body. It provides firmness and strength to many tissues. Think of it as support tissue, like the girders of a building but with much more flexibility than girders have.

Why the excess of collagen has formed in the colon is an unanswered question.

Chronic, watery diarrhea is the main sign of this illness. Middle-aged and older women are the ones most likely to come down with it. For every man with it, nine women have it.

When a doctor inspects the colon with a scope, the doctor sees no changes. Everything looks normal. However, a biopsy of the colon demonstrates its invasion with too much collagen.

Sulfasalazine, bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) and mesalamine are some of the medicines used for treatment. Imodium (loperamide) is another. Sure, you can try any of these, including Imodium. You must first consult your doctor.

If none of the above brings about a response, then the cortisone medicine prednisone is prescribed.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My daughter, a hospital nurse, has seen patients with arthritis respond to acupuncture treatments. One patient my daughter saw was screaming with arthritis pain. One day my daughter came into the hospital and saw this person walking around. She asked how, and was told that the patient got acupuncture treatment. I had back problems that were gone with acupuncture treatment. You said needles are inserted into the skin. People think that is painful; it is not. Hope you help your readers understand this. — M.B.

ANSWER: The medial journal articles I cited in that answer had positive things to say about acupuncture. I did say needles were used, but I added “fine” to “needles.” People need not fear pain from their use. I am happy for the results you got and the ones witnessed by your daughter.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.

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