[The following article was written by Jody Lose, an Estate Planning Case Manager at my law firm, Marshall, Parker and Weber.]
Most people already have some knowledge of organ donations. When you apply for or renew your driver’s license or photo ID you are asked if you want to become an organ donor.
Anyone can decide to be a donor. If you are under age 18, however, you will need the signature of a parent or guardian to have the donor designation placed on your driver’s license or photo ID. If you are over age 18, you can request the Organ Donor designation be placed on your driver’s license or photo ID at the Photo Center at the time you have your photo taken.
You can also now apply online if you do not want to wait to renew your driver’s license or photo ID by going to www.donatelifepa.org/registration. This is an online database for Organ Donor Registrations, with a link through the PennDot website as well. Separate donor cards are not mailed out. You can call Gift of Life in Philadelphia toll-free at 1-877-DONORPA (366-6772) or you can go online to www.donatelife-pa.org to obtain more information.
For people who are interested in contributing to scientific study or teaching to promote medical science, your entire body can be donated to the Humanity Gifts Registry in Philadelphia. The Humanity Gifts Registry is a non-profit agency in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that handles receipt and distribution of entire bodies donated to medical and dental schools in the state for teaching purposes. For more information or to pre-register as a donor, you can contact the Registry at 1-215-922-4440 or go online to www.hgrpa.org .
We are often asked about placing donor information in a person’s Last Will and Testament. This is not a good choice for designating your wishes for organ, tissue and/or body donations because your Will may not be reviewed until days or even weeks after you have passed away.
Organ, tissue and/or body donation directions can be placed in your Health Care Power of Attorney. If you do this be sure to talk about it with your family members and the person(s) designated as your health care agent(s). You want them to be aware of your wishes for donation and any designations or registrations you have done in advance.
With the advancement in technology for donations and the types of donations that are available today, many of our clients prefer to discuss their wishes with their health care agent(s) and family members and have them make the ultimate decision for donation based on the circumstances at the end of life.
People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors. Qualified medical personnel will review the donors’ medical and social history to determine what organs, tissues, or body parts may be able to be donated. The Humanity Gifts Registry will make a determination at death for acceptance of remains. It is only under the most unusual of circumstances that a donor’s body would be rejected.