Jim Porter: Sign up to be an organ donor | SierraSun.com

Jim Porter: Sign up to be an organ donor

Jim Porter
Special to the Sun

April is National Donate Life Month, and as most of you serious Jim Porter readers know, every other year or so we do an organ and tissue donation column. More than 100,000 Americans (at least) are in need of an organ transplant. Every day over 18 people die waiting for an organ donation.

While most of us may be conceptually in agreement with organ donations, perhaps conveniently we put it off. Well now is the time to register as a donor.

The purpose of this column is to again request every one of you (and your family members) to sign up to be an organ and tissue donor. There are several different ways you can do that, like online with the Donate Life California Registry at http://www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org. Also see http://www.organdonor.gov and http://www.donatelife.net. To register in Spanish, log on at http://www.donevida.org.

Donate Life Walk For Awareness is one way you can educate yourself and show your support. This event is being held on May 16 at the Sparks Marina. Visit http://www.donatelifewalknv.com for information.

Something else you can do is to check and#8220;YES! I want to be an organ and tissue donorand#8221; when you apply for or renew your drivers license or ID card through the California DMV.

When you get your license you will receive a form with a little pink DONOR dot that you stick on the front of your license. Or do what I did and glue on your own pink dot and#8212; if you can find one. Register too.

Itand#8217;s important to let your family know you want to donate because unfortunately, itand#8217;s not that uncommon to have well-intentioned family members oppose a deceasedand#8217;s desire to donate on their death.

I discussed organ donation with our two girls and they were 100 percent supportive and immediately registered. It was either that or no dinner.

Organs like a kidney, a partial lung or a partial liver can be donated while you are still alive to someone who is compatible. Often that is a family member. Donating an organ while you are alive is about as powerful a statement anyone can make. It takes the expression and#8220;unselfishly giving of yourselfand#8221; to a new level. To learn more visit the United Network for Organ Sharing at http://www.unos.org.

There is a form prepared by the California Medical Association called an and#8220;Advance Health Care Directiveand#8221; that allows you to specify your health care wishes. You may appoint someone to make health care decisions should you be unable to do so yourself, and you can give instructions in advance as to your wishes. Remember Terri Schiavo.

The directive includes an organ and tissue donation election. I would be pleased to send you an Advanced Health Care Directive and#8212; without charge.

My wife Marianne was afraid Iand#8217;d and#8220;pull the plugand#8221; if she was sick with a bad cold so she appointed her brother. Seriously.

The directive replaces the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care but that form remains valid. Even if you are uncomfortable agreeing to be a donor, which is a personal choice, completing an Advanced Health Care Directive is an important part of your estate planning.

Any awkwardness of the subject should not deter you. Even if you donand#8217;t have a will and/or are relatively young, and in particular if you are young, complete a donor directive form. Have your kids do so too. You may save a life, maybe multiple lives.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon, with offices in Truckee, South Lake Tahoe, Incline Village and Reno. He is a mediator and was the Governor’s appointee to the Fair Political Practices Commission and McPherson Commission, both involving election law and the Political Reform Act. He may be reached at porter@portersimon.com or at the firmand#8217;s website. 2010.