February 16th, 2015

Organ Donation – A Critical Aspect to Consider When Executing A Durable Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will

A Durable Health Care Power of Attorney and Health Care Treatment Instructions (Living Will) should be considered an essential part of any estate plan. It allows one to designate a health care Agent to make health care decisions when you can no longer communicate. It also provides instructions to your family as to end of life decisions, which is commonly referred to as a “Living Will”. Another aspect that is included in a properly drafted Health Care Power of Attorney is your decision about the donation of your organs and tissues. Before making a decision, you should consider the following important aspects of organ and tissue donations.

What organs can be transplanted? Organs that are able to be transplanted are the kidneys, heart, lungs, liver, pancreas and the intestines.

What tissues can be transplanted? Tissues that are able to be transplanted include the corneas, skin, heart valves, bone, veins, cartilage, tendons and ligaments.

Several false myths exist in the area of organ and tissue donations:

Myth #1: Doctors will not try to save my life if they know I am a registered current organ donor.

Fact: The medical staff is completely separate from the transplant team. Transplant surgeons are called only after all efforts to save a life have been exhausted.

Myth #2: Organ donations interfere with funeral arrangements.

Fact: Organ donations have no bearing on funerals, including open-casket viewings.

Myth #3: I am too old to be considered an organ or tissue donor.

Fact: The condition of your organs and tissues at the time of your death are the primary consideration, not your chronological age. In fact, the oldest organ donor in the U.S. was 92 years.

For more information about organ and tissue donations, please click here.

James Ritter heads up the firm’s Emmaus Office, concentrating his practice in the areas of estate planning and administration, small business planning, real estate law and elder law. In many cases, Jim has counseled his clients and their families for multiple generations, keeping them up-to-date on new estate laws and offering the comfort of knowing that they are prepared for the future.

The content found in this resource is for informational reference use only and is not considered legal advice. Laws at all levels of government change frequently and the information found here may be or become outdated. It is recommended to consult your attorney for the most up-to-date information regarding current laws and legal matters.