Death, Organ Donor, and Organ Donation

Death and Organ Donation

Contributed by Elizabeth Hurlow-Hannah, 301.785.7619, elizabeth@yourexitstrategy.org

Birth and death are opposites, so why don’t we give them equal air-time? Just as talking about sex doesn’t make you pregnant, you won’t drop dead because you’ve talked about death and dying!

Diagnosed with Stage IIIA breast cancer in 2004, I’m assured that my soul will return to heaven whenever I die, but who can use my body?

My cousin, Mike, suffered a cerebral aneurysm while shopping, and the paramedics kept him alive to harvest his organs.

When Tom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at 64, he said, “Let me sign the papers to donate my brain to the Neurology unit to help someone else.”

Organ Donation:

These websites will bring you up to speed:

http://www.organdonor.gov at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service

123,361 people are waiting for an organ 18 people will die each day waiting for an organ 1 organ donor can save up to 8 lives

Watch this five-minute video http://donatelife.net/understanding-donation/ to learn how the National Wait Transplantation works. Click on your state here: http://organdonor.gov/becomingdonor/stateregistries.html

Organ Donation/Transplantation:

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) http://unos.org/is the private, non-profit organization that manages the nation’s organ transplant system under contract with the federal government.

Whole Body Donation for medical research and education:

Both organizations cover all costs: transportation; death certificates; cremation and return of cremains to your family.

Science Care www.sciencecare.com, 800.417.3747, info@sciencecare.com

MedCure, www.medcure.org, 866.560.2525, info@medcure.org

Query medical schools in your state: Is pre-registration necessary?

International Whole Body Donation:

If you die overseas, check with medical schools in that country about donation.

Read this article, The process of donating a whole body for medical research written by Sara Madsen, Editor in Chief for US Funerals Online. http://www.us-funerals.com/body-donation.html#.VMQNPS7uZ8o [Permission granted.

Check out the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) a professional, non-profit, scientific and educational organization. http://www.aatb.org

Be assured that all of these procedures are legal and ethical. No one removes body parts to sell on the black market. Ask yourself, “WHAT IF _________ developed an illness and was put on the transplant list? How would I react? What could I do to help?”

I signed up with MedCure in 2009, because it’s an even barter: they pay all costs associated with retrieving my body and using it for medical research; I avoid paying $7K-$10K in funeral costs —which adds a bump to my grandchildren’s educational fund. Isn’t this the best win-win situation?

Life’s never easy, sometimes not fair. We need to roll with the cards we’re dealt, even when it looks like a lousy hand.

How about you? What are you going to do? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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End of Life and Death Donation Options

Consider Funeral and Death Donations

Afterward…

Dividing and Donating Your Loved One’s Estate

A Guest Blogger Shares His Personal Story:

 

When my grandmother passed away, my mother was named as executor of her funeral estate planning and was left with a house full of memories and possessions to distribute. After she and her siblings divided those belongings that they wanted, there were still many items left. My mother didn’t feel right selling these things, so she donated everything, in order to help others in need.

Clothing and Shoes

Clothing items can be donated to second-hand stores, homeless shelters, or battered women’s shelters. There are often used clothing drives in the fall and winter, and coats, gloves/mittens, scarves and boots are especially important donations during this time.

Bedding

If these items are in good condition, homeless shelters will put them to use, especially in the winter months. Additionally, hospices can always use quality donations in order to make their patients as comfortable as possible in their final days.

Books, Videos and CDs

With budget cuts, many schools and libraries are unable to buy new materials as often as they would like, which negatively impacts their students and patrons. By donating to these establishments, you are helping your community and aiding in the education of others.

Dishes, Silverware, and Food-Related Utensils

Homeless shelters that cater to families are often divided into small apartments, complete with kitchens.  By donating to these organizations, you can help a family sit down to a home cooked meal, thus providing stability during a difficult time.

Knick-Knacks, Artwork, and the Like

These are often tricky to donate, as many are personal mementos or are considered clutter by others. Residents of nursing homes, and those suffering from a terminal illness, can often live in drab surroundings.  Therefore, items such as these can brighten their rooms and bring smiles to their faces.

Furniture

Craig’s List is a great place to find people in need of free furniture. When posting, be sure to include a photo, and request that prospective owners pick up the furniture. Be cautious when using sites such as these, though, and use common sense when allowing strangers into your home.

Used Medical Equipment

It is not uncommon to have used medical equipment left after a loved one’s death, especially in the case of a prolonged illness or severe injury. When left with a wheelchair, walker, shower chair, or other equipment, find an area hospice in need of your items. These are often nonprofit, and can always use quality donations.

The death of a loved one can be a devastating time. The last thing you want to worry about is what to do with their possessions once they are gone.

However, with a little thought and end of life planning, you can make this a relatively painless process, and one that can be handled quickly and efficiently, so you can begin to move past your tragedy and start the grief and loss and healing process.

Courtesy of Joseph Baker