You Can Give the Gift of Life

You Can Give the Gift of Life

Make organ donation part of your life’s legacy.

I’m a sucker for Hallmark movies. I can always count on a happy ending. Drama and conflict build to a climax, followed by a predictable resolution that leaves me smiling.

My most recent Hallmark movie experience culminated in watching a person who had received a heart transplant meet the donor’s family. The teenage sister of the donor unabashedly declared that her brother’s presence filled the room. She listened to his heart through a stethoscope resting on the recipient’s chest. Her eyes lit up as she smiled. I smiled too. Thank you, Hallmark.

Did you know that eighteen people in the U.S. die each day waiting for an organ transplant? Families may hesitate, for lack of knowing your wishes. Moreover, numerous myths about organ donation have discouraged potential donors. Mayo Clinic dispels these myths; don’t be dissuaded.

Remarkably, one-third of consenting donors never realize their wish to give the gift of life because family members subsequently refuse permission—in many cases simply because they are unaware of their loved one’s preference. Even if your driver’s license indicates your intent as a donor, if you’ve never talked about your wishes with your loved ones, they might be uncertain and uncomfortable making this choice.

Yet, when families do consent, organ donation can be a surprising comfort as loved ones grieve, particularly when a death occurs suddenly and unexpectedly. Families take solace in knowing the death of their loved allowed others to live.

Just one organ donor can save up to eight lives.

Critical organs, such as the heart, can increase the lifespan of the recipient for years. Donated eyes can give sight, a kidney can eliminate the need for dialysis, and donated tissue can offer healing to burn victims.

Infographic source:

Infographic source:

You can donate while you are living.

Some donations can occur while the donor is fully alive and healthy. Portions of the liver, pancreas, a lung, and portions of the intestines can be harvested from a living donor. Kidney donation is also possible; a donor can survive and live a full life with one remaining kidney. Additionally, donated bone marrow and blood stem cells can be used to treat some types of cancer. Blood donations are yet another lifesaving gift from living donors.

You have options.

You can choose to donate all, or only part of, your organs and tissue. For example, a friend has confided that she does not want her eyes removed. I learned recently that a business colleague, whose internal organs were damaged by disease, donated his skin to help burn victims. You can even define the purpose for your donation: therapy or treatment (organ transplant), research (studying an organ to understand the disease), or education (used for teaching medical students).

Let the experts decide.

Some individuals assume their organs will not be viable for donation due to advanced age or a chronic disease or condition. Let the medical experts make that determination. If you desire to give the gift of life through organ donation, most likely some part of your body will be usable for a donation.

The donor’s family incurs no cost.

The recipient’s health insurance covers the cost. The donating family does not bear the financial burden of the transplant, nor do they receive any payment for the organ or tissue.

Make the process easier for your loved ones.

Completing 4 simple steps can ensure your desire to give the gift of life is honored and will make the process of organ donation easier for your loved ones.

  1. Register as an organ donor in advance.

    You can sign up using a registry for your state (click here) to record your consent to be an organ donor. Your registration serves as your authorization, thus sparing loved ones from the emotional angst of consenting on your behalf.

  2. Designate you are an organ donor on your license.

    Ensure your driver’s license indicates you are an organ donor. You can visit your local license bureau to apply for a new license with the donor designation. When it’s time to renew, make sure you check YES, I am a donor.

  3. Communicate your organ donor wishes.

    Talk with your loved ones, your physician and friends about your intention to be an organ donor. Explain any limitations you wish to impose and/or any desire for your organs to be used for a specific purpose. Share your motivations. You might inspire others to join you.

  4. Include your donation consent in your advance directive.

    Most advance healthcare directive forms or tools include the topic of organ donation. Communicate your consent in this legal document. My post on writing an effective healthcare directive will help you to get started.

Should circumstances ever arise when you could become an organ donor, one of the challenges your loved ones could face is the process of answering numerous questions about your social and health history. Medical staff will compassionately complete an inventory of questions. For grieving loved ones, this can be arduous and painful.

I’m choosing to fill mine out in advance. I want my loved ones to face the least amount of stress in such a circumstance. Here’s a document I’m using (click here). Even though it is watermarked “uncontrolled copy,” I trust my information will be useful and reduce the hassle factor for my family.

Organ donation can be an extraordinary part of your life’s legacy.

Give the gift of life! Your generous decision can save or improve numerous lives. The ripple effect will bless the recipients’ families for years to come. What a powerful legacy you can leave!

QUESTION: If you or a loved one have been blessed to receive an organ transplant, would you please share your story and inspire others via social media? Please share this post with your comment.



You can prepare for the responsibility of serving as the healthcare agent for one or both of your parents.

This FREE guide will help you to prepare for the future possibility of making medical and personal care decisions for your Mom or Dad. Interested?

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Healthcare Agent Preparation Guide

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