Organ & Body Donation
Numerous people receive an organ transplant every day, but there are many others on the waiting list who die because not enough organs are available. Last year, in New York State alone, hundreds if not thousands of people died waiting for an organ donation, and thousands of people are currently awaiting organ and tissue transplants. For these reasons, more and more people are considering the possibility of donating organs—or even their entire bodies—after death.
With advances in medical science, it’s now possible, to donate organs, tissue (including skin, bone, corneas, heart valves, blood vessels and tendons), bone marrow, or your entire body for purposes of transplant, education or medical research.
- Under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act of 1984, it’s illegal to sell “or buy human organs or bodies.” Anyone violating this law can be fined and/or sent to jail.
- Available transplant organs are gifted according to many factors, including location of the donor and donee, severity of illness, physical characteristics, like blood type, size and genetic makeup. Factors like wealth or celebrity status aren’t considered when deciding who gets an available transplant organ.
- You can and should express your wishes in your Health Care Proxy. You can also register with your local Department of Motor Vehicles to be an organ donor and have it noted on your driver’s license. It’s important to carry your donor card and/or the Health Care Proxy card (that we create for you) with you at all times.
- You can choose whether you wish to donate for transplant only, or for research, therapy, education or any one or more of these purposes.
- You should discuss your wishes with your family so that it won’t come as a shock to them, and so that they understand how important it is to you that your wishes be followed. As a practical matter, a family member who is not aware that you intend to make a donation can unintentionally undermine your wishes. Choosing an agent willing to follow through with your wishes is of paramount importance.