Law Review: Register as an organ donor, this month |

Law Review: Register as an organ donor, this month

As most of you faithful Law Review readers know, more or less every April — National Donate Life Month — we do an organ and tissue donor column. This message bears repeating.

Well over 100,000 people in the United States are in need of an immediate organ transplant. On average, 20 people die every day waiting for an organ donation. Names are added to the national transplant list every 10 minutes. One donor can save up to eight lives and can enhance more than 100 lives through tissue donation. The cornea is the most commonly transplanted organ in the US, more than 40,000 per year. I once offered my brain, but was rejected.

More than one-third of all deceased donors are age 50 or older and nearly eight percent are age 65 or older. So even if you are 70 or older like yours truly, your organs can still be used to save a life. Amazingly, almost half of the U.S. adult population are registered organ, eye and tissue donors.

While most of us may be theoretically in agreement with organ donations, we put it off with one excuse or another. Now is the time to register as a donor.


The purpose of this column is to request every one of you (and your family members and friends) to sign up to be an organ and tissue donor. There is no reason not to do so. There are several different ways you can do so, online with the Donate Life California Registry at Also see, and Para registrarse en Español vaya a

Something else you can do is to check “YES! I want to be an organ and tissue donor” 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. But you should also register.

It’s important to let your family know you want to donate because it’s not uncommon to have well-intentioned family members oppose a deceased’s desire to donate on their death.

Years ago, I discussed organ donation with our two girls and they were 100% supportive and immediately registered. It was either that or no college money. I no longer have that leverage and they are still registered as donors.


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 “unselfishly giving of yourself” to a new level. To learn more, visit the United Network for Organ Sharing at


There is a form prepared by the California Medical Association called “Advance Health Care Directive” 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. The Directive includes an organ and tissue donation election. You don’t need a Will to fill out a directive.

My lovely wife Marianne was afraid I’d “pull the plug” if she was sick with a bad cold, so she appointed her brother with (Jim Simon as alternate) to make decisions in the event she is incapacitated (with a bad cold). I kid you not.


I would be pleased to send you an Advanced Health Care Directive—without charge – words that do not often fly by my lips or wallet.

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.

If you are relatively young, in particular if you are young, complete a donor directive form on the Health Care Directive or by registering as a donor. Suggest doing so to your friends too. You may save a life, maybe many.

As they say, “you may not be a match for everyone, but you’re a perfect match for someone.”

This column is an updated reprint of a previous Law Review.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at or

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