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May 1, 2009

The Big Reminder

Filed under: Big Reminder — Francesca @ 12:53 pm

donor-card-and-cards-and-money-ahd.jpgFrancesca has a reminder for you, via our internet friend Margo:

Have you signed up for an organ donor card?

And even if you have, have you discussed your wishes with your family?

It is important to remember that in most places, it is not up to you or your card, but rather your surviving family, what happens to your organs. As morbid as the conversation may be, it is important that your family know what you want, so that they won’t be forced to make an emotion-driven decision later.


  1. Very important message.

    If you get the sense your family will fall out if you try to discuss such an issue, (my mother still has the bruise), please go online to some reputable legal site and make a will. It will cost you less than 100.00 American dollars and will not only make sure your wishes are preserved, but that it will serve as one less thing for your already grieving family to have to deal with at an already difficult time.

    Comment by Jeanine — May 1, 2009 @ 4:15 pm

  2. Jeanine, a will is an important document to have, but it is not the proper place to preserve your wishes regarding organ donation. By the time your will is offered for probate in court after your death, it will be far too late to donate your organs.

    The requirements vary from state to state, which is why it is important to consult a lawyer in the state in which you live rather than using a cheapie legal website. In my state, you can execute a document entitled “Gift by a Living Donor” which details your wishes regarding organ donation and is signed before two disinterested witnesses. It is also wise to have a Medical Power of Attorney, which appoints someone to make your medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself (and, of course, you want to appoint someone who is fully aware of your wishes and whom you trust to carry them out), and a Living Will (also known as a Directive to Physicians) expressing your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment if you are suffering from a terminal illness or irreversible condition.

    A website is really not the proper place to do your estate planning documents. This is something that should be handled in person with a reputable attorney and not by a website whose forms may not fully meet the requirements of the state in which you live. Documents done on these websites often end up creating more problems than they solve. You won’t have to deal with the aftermath, but your loved ones will.

    Comment by Cat — May 1, 2009 @ 8:16 pm

  3. I definitely second, third, and fourth the advice to make sure those around you know your wishes, whatever they happen to be.

    As for my personal feelings in the matter, well, I actually found it comforting after my parents’ deaths to know that the organs they donated to others meant that a little bit of each lived on, in a way. Knowing that even though my mother wasn’t around, her corneas were helping two other people to see, and knowing that my father’s donation of his lungs to medical science might help someone else diagnosed with mesothelyoma (sp?) just seemed right to me. They were both all about helping others in life. I liked that they chose to continue the tradition in death.

    But whether you believe in organ donation as your final gift to humanity, or you believe that the body should be kept inviolate after death, you should make certain that your family knows your feelings in the matter. Don’t make them make that decision in a mist of grief and confusion.

    Cat, which state do you live in? I’m interested to know more about this “Gift of a Living Donor.” Oh, and here in California, if you wish to be an organ donor it’s as simple as putting a tiny sticker on your drivers’ license and signing a card. If you put the sticker on your license and sign the card, your wishes are known. It’s nice to know that if something should happen to me, Mr. Twistie will not have to make that decision on his own.

    Oh, and when you talk to your family or write up that document, be sure to include any important information about how you want your funeral handled, as well. It’s not a fun thing to think about, but I feel better for the fact that Mr. Twistie and I have talked the matter over. Each of us knows how the other would prefer to be memorialized.

    Comment by Twistie — May 2, 2009 @ 11:23 am

  4. Twistie, I live in Texas. The “Gift by a Living Donor” form isn’t required, but some people like to have it because it allows them to spell out any specifics about where they want their organs or body to be donated and for what purposes. Personally, I just checked the “yes” box for organ donation on my driver’s license and made sure that those I gave medical power of attorney to are aware of my wishes.

    I agree that it’s very important to make sure that those who will be making these decisions for you, whether simply your next of kin or someone you have appointed in a power of attorney, are fully aware of your wishes and can be trusted to carry them out — not just your wishes regarding organ donation, but also regarding continuation or discontinuation of life support, whether you want to be buried or cremated, etc. Not only will you have the peace of mind of knowing that your wishes will be carried out, but it will also make things so much easier for your loved ones when the time comes if they don’t have to guess what you might have wanted.

    Comment by Cat — May 2, 2009 @ 1:02 pm

  5. Oh yes! Knowing your loved one’s wishes about a funeral is important, too. When my dad died, my mom and I were planning his burial. We were at the funeral home, which was owned by someone who had known my mom her whole life (she and my dad are from a small town). He did show us the expensive stuff, but was low key, thank goodness, and my mom considered it, but I told my mom that my dad, who, in his will had specified a pine box, would say, “Linda. Get the cheapest casket you can and spend the rest on a trip to Paris.” I wish I had had the presence of mind to ask if there were cheaper caskets in the back, because even going for the modest casket, it cost us $6,000, which my mom sure could have used for other things, like her mortgage.

    Comment by class factotum — May 2, 2009 @ 9:16 pm

  6. I am not the Margo who put forward this excellent suggestion (I am the Margo what makes silly captions up), but – yes, yes & yes, and also my darlings, make a will. Especially if you have sprogs. If you need any extra incentive, read Natascha McElhone’s heartbreaking interview about her late husband in the Observer.

    Comment by Margo — May 3, 2009 @ 5:15 am

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