A Resource for Family Caregivers of Seniors
Organ Donation: Sharing the Gift of Life

Organ Donation: Sharing the Gift of Life

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The concept of donating your organs at the end of your life make you uneasy?

Did you know that there are more than 117,000 people in the U.S. in need of organ donation?

Or that 4,000 people are added to the national waiting list each day?

Or that 18 people each day die while waiting for a transplant that never arrives?

Becoming an organ donor is a personal decision and one that takes some careful thought and learning to make.  It is the ultimate gift a person can give.

It’s also a decision that may be tough for your loved ones to shoulder if your wishes aren’t clear.

Discuss Donation in Advance

As we and our senior loved ones age, facing our future and our choices for the end of our life is a very difficult thing to do. It is even harder to talk about out loud with family members but it is a conversation worth having. Not only will we learn what the wishes of our senior loved ones are but how their life can mean something crucial to the lives of others they don’t even know.

In the event that this is a conversation that didn’t take place before the end of life, many family members don’t feel they can opt to donate their senior loved one’s organs when asked to consent. It may not just be that you are afraid that your senior would not be in agreement, but the conversation never occurred resulting in what could be a missed opportunity to share the gift of life. If your senior is one that has had led a nurturing and giving life, this may be a wish he or she would want to continue in a lifelong spirit of giving.

Not knowing all the facts about organ donation can also hold back family members from making this decision when the end is near for our aging seniors. In the event of an end of life experience, the timing is not right to make this type of decision when there are many other priorities and emotions that take precedence at this time. Therefore, a conversation now is the best idea if you feel that they would want to share this precious gift or to simply learn about options. Families who already know the wishes of their seniors are seven times more likely to pursue organ donation.

Even if your senior has designated on the driver’s license that they wished to donate their organs, the next of kin will still be asked to give consent for harvesting of organs when the time comes. You will need to know their wishes to make the choice yourself and feel confident that this is their wish. You will only know this through conversation now.

Organ Donation Facts

  • Anyone at any age can donate one or more organs. Despite having a chronic disease, the medical team will make a determination if there are viable organs or tissue that can be given or if the medical diagnosis does not allow donation.
  • Most organs are donated after death but many come from living donors.
  • Sometimes an organ can be used successfully even when the blood or tissue type don’t match.
  • You can save up to eight lives with your organs. Last year, organ donors made more than 28,000 transplants possible. Another one million people received cornea and other tissue transplants that helped them recover.
  • You can designate yourself an organ donor by registering with your state organ donor registry, every state has a registry. You can access your state’s registry here. You can also sign up when you renew your driver’s license.
  • Most major religions consider organ donation a final gift of love.
  • There is no cost to the organ donor or the family for donating an organ.

Talk to your senior loved one today and discuss their thoughts and wishes about organ donation. Get the facts and you’ll be ready when the time comes.

Donate Life and Share the Gift of Life!

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