The statistics speak volumes:
• More than 100,000 men, women and children currently require life-saving transplants
• Every 10 minutes, another name is added to the National Organ Transplant Waiting List
• On average, 18 people die each day due to the lack of organs available for transplant
National Donate Life Month was instituted by Donate Life America and its members in 2003 to help address this tragic situation. As estate planning attorneys, we are well aware of the stress families endure hoping for a loved one’s potentially life-saving organ transplant—and the anguish they suffer when one is not available in time.
We therefore welcome this initiative and suggest, if you haven’t made known your wish to be an organ donor, or if you’ve only put it on your driver’s license, that it’s a good idea to fill out an organ donor card or register as an organ donor at www.donatelifeflorida.org. If you take this additional step, you can specify which organs you would or would not like to donate and it will be easier for health care professionals to determine your organ donor status.
We also applaud the efforts of participants in National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), which falls on April 16. The focus of NHDD is the importance of planning for future care through advance directives such as health care powers of attorney and living wills. Together, these initiatives go a long way toward creating greater public awareness about the need for, and benefits of, proper planning and communication about one’s health care wishes.
While organ donation and health care advance directives are deeply personal decisions, we hope you will consider the importance of making your wishes known in advance, discussing them with loved ones, and making sure they are both legally documented and easily accessible during an emergency, or in the event of incapacity. If you would like to make changes to your advance directives, or any other updates to your estate plan in general, we are here to assist you.