Jim Porter: Register as an organ donor — this month (opinion) | SierraSun.com

Jim Porter: Register as an organ donor — this month (opinion)

As most of you serious Law Review readers know, every April — National Donate Life month — 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 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 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

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 are several different ways you can do so, online with the Donate Life California Registry at http://www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org. Also see http://www.organdonor.gov, http://www.registerme.org and http://www.donatelife.net. Para registrarse en Español vaya a 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 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.

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. 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. I kid you not.

Something Free from Porter

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

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 healthcare 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, Tahoe City and Reno. He may be reached at porter@portersimon.com or http://www.portersimon.com.

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