Jim Porter: What does it meant to be an organ donor? | SierraSun.com

Jim Porter: What does it meant to be an organ donor?

Jim Porter
Special to the Sun

As most of you serious Law Review readers know, every once in awhile we do an organ and tissue donor column. The message bears repeating.

Nearly 124,000 Americans are in need of an organ transplant. Every day an average of 21 people die waiting for an organ donation.

More than one-third of all deceased donors are age 50 or older and nearly eight percent are age 65 or older like me.

So even if you are older, your organs still can be used to save a life. Amazingly, almost half of the U.S. adult population are registered organ, eye and tissue donors. I guess that leaves out my post-lobotomy brain.

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

Organ Donation Registry

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The purpose of this column is to 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.

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 unfortunately 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 percent supportive and immediately registered. It was either that or no college money.

Living Donor

Organs like a kidney, a partial lung or a partial liver can be donated while you are still alive to someone that 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 http://www.unos.org.

Health care Directive

There is a form prepared by the California Medical Association called an "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.

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

My wife Marianne was afraid I'd "pull the plug" if she was sick with a bad cold so she appointed her brother to make decisions in the event she is incapacitated. 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.

Even if you don't have a will and/or are relatively young, and in particular if you are young, complete a donor directive form on the healthcare directive or by registering as a donor.

Suggest doing so to your friends too. You may save a life, maybe many.

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