Tuesday, December 11, 2018
"Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take."
And as for the rest of me, you can take that too. I won’t need it where I’m going.
Most people don’t talk about death with their loved ones. It’s just not a topic that comes up in conversation, unless you are taking on some risky venture like swimming with the sharks. But perhaps we should have a chat with the people closest to us, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.
We need to have a talk about organ donation, with the ones we love. Basically, we have to make our wishes known, just in case. Do you want to have your viable organs harvested and passed on to someone who can use them when you die and don’t need them anymore? If so, you need to do more than just sign an organ donor card.
I read that more than 450 people declined to have their loved ones’ organs donated in 2018 because they were uncertain of their wishes (and that person was either deceased, on life support or otherwise incapacitated and unable to clarify). So not only did those people pass on, but they were not given the opportunity to save a person – or several people – through the gift of organ and tissue donation.
Your view of the hereafter may be very different from mine. Not everyone has a belief system that allows the concept of organ donation. But if you aren’t certain you are against it, I would encourage you to consider being for it, and to make your wishes known by doing a few things.
Sign the card that comes with your driver’s license. Put it in your wallet in case, heaven forbid, you are in a horrific crash and your organs need to be harvested without delay. Many a tragedy has turned into a miracle for a family in need, because the victim of a collision had signed a donor card.
Next, go to the government website: Be a Donor and check to see if you are a registered organ donor. All you have to do is enter your health card number and birthdate and you will see if you need to update your information.
These are great ways to let people know your intentions – that you wish to have your organs harvested and donated upon your passing. Unfortunately, this may not be enough. We are learning that hundreds of people pass away every year and their wishes are not honoured, because they didn’t make them clearly known to the family they left behind. When asked by medical staff about consent for organ donation, many people are saying no, even if a card has been signed by the deceased person.
To avoid this situation, I would urge you to make a point of writing a note in your own hand, stating your wishes to have your organs and tissues donated upon your death. Put that note somewhere safe, with your will or important papers, and make sure you tell someone that it’s there. They need to be aware of it before you die.
Now, I have to apologize for writing about such a difficult subject in what is typically a lighthearted column. I just was surprised to learn that signing the donor card – even registering with the province – may not be enough to ensure your wishes are upheld. If your family has any doubt that you want your organs donated, they can decline on your behalf.
Don’t leave any doubt in their minds. Make sure they know the answers to the difficult questions. Do you want to be an organ donor when you die? And beyond that - do you want to be buried or cremated? Do you want your ashes scattered somewhere in particular? Write it down, and tell those closest to you what you have written.
None of us know the hour or the day when our lives will come to an end. We also can’t know for sure what happens after we die. My father, who was a science teacher, often said “there are some things we just aren’t meant to know.” But on his deathbed, when asked if he wanted his organs donated, he said, “I don’t know if you will find anything worth saving, but you are welcome to it.”
In memory of the donors.
Posted by Diana Leeson Fisher at 2:29 PM