Seniors: Offering a Final Gift, the Generosity of Organ Donation

May 6th, 2011 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Perhaps you and your family have already deliberated the possibility of organ donation upon death and designed your own specific plan. If so, that is commendable. If not it may be worth considering as you make all the necessary preparations dealing with the inevitability of death.

In this column, we have previously dealt with funeral preparations, estate plans and issues, distribution of all kinds of furniture and collections in your keeping, power of attorney and do not resuscitate orders and so on. All of these require time, attention, deliberation and action. Putting them off will only increase the agony and anxiety for others, if they are not addressed in a timely manner.

Organ donation is another of those that is easy to put in the “I’ll get around to it one of these days” category. The problem with that is the clock and calendar are in charge, we are not. Thus, it is ours to determine a specific and well defined plan which will be available to those required to deal with the issue of last will and wishes.

Organ donation requires completing necessary forms, being sure they are on file, if/when you are hospitalized or bed ridden and that appropriate persons have been included in knowing your choices and decisions. Without the latter, all the rest will be in vain.

Post 70 now, I have been the recipient of 3 donations in my lifetime. Because I was born with a genetic defect known as keratoconus, i.e. cone shaped cornea, I have had three corneal transplants. The last was thirteen years ago, at the time of retirement. It was my good fortune to have received the cornea of a 16 year old who was tragically killed in an automobile accident over Memorial Day weekend. My gratitude can never assuage the family’s grief, but that young man gave me continued good vision for a number of additional years.

If your health is good, at whatever your age, and you are inclined to offer your organs for the benefit of a transplant patient(s), do not procrastinate. I remember the weeks I waited until a cornea was available. Every phone call had me nervously, anxiously reaching for the phone. At last the call came and the operation and the recovery. It was, as had been the other two, completely successful.

Review with your own medical professional, and, of course your family, your thoughts and desires regarding this possibility. Be sure your questions are answered, your desires are recorded, your family is on the same page. Recognize, if health conditions change, that you may reverse your original decision and change it accordingly. Inform everyone who will have a need to know.

Be sure that everyone who will be involved in your wishes has the full and appropriate information. At the time of death, there is little time to deliberate further. Haste is essential, if the donation is to be done.

Often, it is the wish of the donor’s family not to be contacted by the recipient’s family. Honor those wishes. If, there is no restriction on such contact, however, it is often very meaningful for the donor’s family to be aware of the wonder and gratitude of the gift received.

Review all particulars regarding organ donation. Be sure you are thoroughly satisfied with your decision. Do not pull the rug out from under anyone who may await an organ. This is the ultimate act of charitable compassion. Give without strings. Give with all your heart and whatever other organ may be donated.



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