This month, the Neptune Society celebrates National Donate Life Month. NDLM was instituted by Donate Life America and its partner organizations in 2003 to raise awareness about the benefits of organ donation.
Although no one likes to think about what will happen to them after they die, making a decision about organ donation is an important part of preplanning your funeral arrangements. Preplanning and signing up to become an organ donor are both important steps you can take today to make sure that not only is the grieving process easier for your family and loved ones, but that you will leave the precious gift of life to someone who needs it.
Celebrated in April each year, NDLM features an entire month of local, regional, and national activities to help encourage Americans to register as organ, eye, and tissue donors and to celebrate those that have saved lives through the gift of donation.
Consider this sobering fact: the United States Department of Human and Health Services estimates that 21 people die each day waiting for transplants because of the shortage of donated organs. Nearly 125,000 men, women and children are awaiting organ transplants in the United States. Nearly 2,000 of these are pediatric patients. Unfortunately, the need greatly outweighs the supply; in 2013 there were only 14,297 organ donors in the United States.
Have you considered giving the gift of life? Making a decision about organ donation is the first step. Your Neptune Society representative can help educate you about how preplanning organ donation and cremation now will enable you to continue your life’s legacy even after you are gone.
What Organs are Needed?
Kidneys are the most commonly transplanted organ—and the most in need. Almost any other type of organ or tissue can also be transplanted. Because donors can often provide more than one kind of organ or tissue, each donor can potentially save up to 8 lives.
Who Can Donate
Almost anyone can donate: young or old, male or female, healthy people and often even those with certain chronic health conditions. The condition of your organs is more important than age. A little known fact about organ donation is that minority donors are especially needed. This is because compatible blood types and tissue markers—critical qualities for donor/recipient matching—are more likely to be found among members of the same ethnicity. In addition, certain health conditions that might cause an individual to need a transplant are more common among minorities.
Is it Against my Religion?
Most major religions in the United States support organ donation and consider donation as the final act of generosity toward others. However, it is best to consult your religious advisor if you have any questions.
How to Donate:
- Ensure your family is aware of your plan to donate your organs. This is why preplanning your funeral arrangements is important. The hospital or place of death will not release your organs for donation without your family’s consent, so make sure your loved ones know your wishes.
- Sign up! Visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Organ Donation website to find a clickable map of all donation registries for each state. Click on your state to sign up.
- Tell your doctor, pastor or faith leader, and friends. This will give them time to process the news, and understand your decision.
- Declare your wishes about organ donation and cremation in your advance directive, will, and living will.
Neptune Society coordinates with all Tissue Banks. However, most organ donations take place at the medical facility in which the death occurs and the hospital arranges for the donation before turning over the deceased for cremation.
Organ donation can literally save lives – in many cases, more than one. The opportunity to save or change a life through organ donation is a compelling reason to consider organ donation when preplanning your funeral arrangements.
For more information on organ donation or prearranging your final wishes, please contact the Neptune Society here.
Special thanks to Wilhelmina Sims, location manager of Neptune Society San Antonio for her support and contributions to this post.
Photo above courtesy of DonateLife.net