Organ donor tattoo

I don’t have any tattoos.

It’s not that I don’t like them. Done well, they’re an admirable art form and at times pretty cool (non-believers are welcome to check out here, here and here for just a few nuggets of proof). I just don’t have anything I’m passionate enough about that I’d want a unique or “cool” take on (whatever that may be) that would be on my body forever. I love writing and drumming, for instance, and have for effectively my whole life. But even the idea of some kind of tattoo of those hasn’t struck me as distinctly enough… well… me.

My wife’s name? My daughter’s? I mean… maybe?

If I had any tattoos prior to my daughter being able to write, I may have lifted an idea a well-tattooed friend used with his own kids, and gotten her to write her own name on my skin and then had those strokes very carefully duplicated in tattoo ink. The original ink would wash off, of course. But the tattoo ink — her name in her own handwriting — would last until I’m gone. That’s a fantastic idea. A snapshot, a moment of your own kid’s life, that will always be with you in yours.

See? If I could come up with something like that, I’d give it some thought as a tattoo.

And so the thought process has gone, sometimes on but mostly off, for decades, down rabbit holes at times for inspiration.

But then there’s stuff like this article, that make me think that I may have found something that could very well become my first tattoo. I love the concept, the look, and oh… did I mention?… it’s practical.

Yes, a practical tattoo.

Hear me out.

A German tattoo artist has designed something he calls OptInk, which he’s hoping becomes a universal visual indicator to medical professionals that the person with the tattoo wishes to donate their organs after death.

It’s intended to be a simple, geometric pattern that any tattoo artist could easily do: One circle overlapped by another one that’s slightly stylized and split in two. My initial impression was that it was meant to represent something as universal as “take this whole [me, the circle] and divide it into parts”. But it was pointed out in the linked article that it also creates an “O” and “D” for “organ donor”. So much for my deep take.

Upside: Its simplicity is hopefully part of what will make it more widely employed. A tattoo anyone can get done anywhere is more likely to catch on, after all. Added bonus: Participating tattoo shops in Germany are already doing it for free for anyone who wants one.

Yes, to answer the question in your head, there are already various ways to indicate that you want to be an organ donor — ticking a box on a driver’s licence form, for instance — but they’re sometimes so buried in legal paperwork, or perhaps never confirmed one way or the other at all, that the decision is often left to next of kin. Who of course may not know about the deceased person’s wishes (these kinds of things aren’t talked about widely enough), and who isn’t in great mental shape at that point to make any objective decisions about something like organ donation. And not to get too morbid, but that’s if next of kin is even around; they may have been killed with the tattooed person in something like a car accident, and who makes the organ donation decision then?

The irony isn’t lost on me that this tattoo is not unique. Not distinctly me. But if the idea of this tattoo catches on around the world, if it actually becomes widely accepted and genuinely useful, my having it could literally save someone’s life. Maybe more than one person. That appeals more than any other tattoo idea I’ve got. So yes, it now tops my list for a first tattoo to get.

Of course, if I’m at a tattoo place getting that one done anyway, it almost seems silly to not get something else done at the same time. Something unique. Distinct. Me.


Back down the rabbit hole I go.

Props to The Non-Obvious Insights Newsletter for the original synopsis and link.

1 Comment

  1. I immediately thought of “OverDose”, which doesn’t sit well with me. “Organ Donor” would be unequivical.
    Tattoo for me? My kids’ faces from photos, on upper arms, to show in spite of t-shirt type sleeves. But maybe not. I’ve been too chicken to think seriously of having my ears pierced.
    Aunt Lois

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