If you aren't already an organ donor, please talk to your family about it today. Not just your spouse, but your parents, siblings, and children as well. If you have objections or concerns, read the ten myths about organ donation or stop by Donate Life America for lots of other information. (Thanks to the cfhusband who authors the blog above for these additional links.)
No one in my family has benefited from organ donation, but we are a donor family after donating my father's organs and tissues. As you know, a heart virus killed him, so unfortunately his heart was not donated, but some bones and tissues were used.
It's good to prepare yourself and your family for how quickly everything happens. In the case where the patient is dead before arriving at the hospital, organs can rarely be donated because the body has been dead for too long. They will probably call you within an hour of your loved one passing to ask you to donate their tissues, as in the case of my father.
If your loved one is clinically dead, but being kept alive by machines, you will be approached before they remove life support. This is important for the vitality of the organs, since they must harvest them quickly. Warn your family and prepare yourself for these questions. It's easy to get upset with medical personnel who are asking. As horrible as this moment is, realizing that your loved one will no longer be with you, this is a chance for you (through them) to save lives.
This is a picture of B sleeping with Love Bug. If you look, you can see a green bracelet on his wrist. This is the Donate Life bracelet they sent to our family, along with pins, and information about donation to give to others. We wear our bracelets and pins often, with pride. It helps us celebrate the wonderful decision my Dad made when he added that little heart to his drivers license, and the wonderful decision my mother made to honor his choice.
Updated to Add: You'll see that one of my comments below is missing, deleted. I just want to say for any of my regular readers that saw it, I have moral objections to what was said. The commenter is encouraging people to sign up for an group that puts organ donors on a special list with others who are also willing to donate. Basically, if you need an organ and someone in this special group passes away, you will get their organ if you are the most in need from this special group. It also means that if you die, your organs will go to anyone in this special group who is a match first, then to others who need your organs in the general population.
It may sound like a good plan and a way to get people to sign up for organ donation, but there are still many flaws. I had never heard of the organization until now, so it's a good bet that many others haven't as well. How is it fair (and how is it helping to promote organ donation) if a person's organs go to someone else on this special list, even if someone who is higher on the transplant list (meaning has a higher need) is already an organ donor? It's not... it's not fair at all. Maybe they didn't know about this special group and didn't know to sign up.
I wish this organization would put their energy and their money towards promoting organ donation and changing legislation to make sure more people are encouraged to become organ donors. Most medical organizations and doctors have called this group immoral and unfair. It directs your organs to other people who know about this special group, while meanwhile, someone else who is higher on the list will die waiting. Often, those in need of an organ are the biggest advocates for organ donation and do a lot to help the cause and encourage others to donate.
Anyway, so while you're talking about organ donation with your family and friends (especially since April is Organ Donation Awareness Month), also talk about groups like these and encourage them to warn others. The United Network for Organ Sharing (those who currently handle all organ donations in the United States) does not endorse this group. The need support for their cause, rather than those who want to make organ donation elite.