Zach Moss 12 May 2016
Organ donation – it’s not the only way to plan
By donating your organs or tissue after you die you can help to save, or dramatically improve, a life.
Making a choiceTo become a donor all you need do is give consent, this can be done by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register or by telling a relative or friend about your decision to donate. Once you give consent (or choose to not become a donor, which you can also register) it is most likely that your wishes will be respected.
Why not plan for both?While making plans for after your death is important, it says a lot about our culture that we are more likely to plan (and be encouraged to do so) for what happens after we die, than for having a good death ourselves.
One in three people are currently registered organ donors and whilst it could be higher, that figure dwarfs the one in twenty five people who have planned for their end of life care, either by completing an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment or a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare.Not only are people more likely to express their wishes and preferences for plans after their death, but these are also more likely to be formally recorded and known about. With regards to organ donation, this is due to a national publicly funded campaign and a national register – making it easy for people to record their wishes, and for healthcare professionals to follow them.
Taking actionThis unbalanced focus on post-death planning, as mirrored in the Dying Matters Week schedule, is something that we need to tackle. We have allowed a system to develop where we’ve made it easier to think about, talk about and make plans for after our deaths. This is wrong – planning for your death should be as simple and widespread as planning for once you’ve gone. Nothing is more telling than the time, thought, energy and money that has been put into the organ register, whilst there remains no centralised system for Advance Decisions to be recorded and shared with medical professionals.
What does this mean for you?If you have registered as an organ donor but have not completed an Advance Decision then you should. You have clearly thought about your death and how it could impact on, and benefit others. By donating organs you can die knowing you could help save someone’s life, and by planning ahead you can have the best care possible.
We urge people to begin those difficult conversations, to formally record their wishes, and to take control of their future treatment and care.If you have yet to think about what is important to you at the end of life, or have wishes and preferences for your future treatment and care but have not recorded them, now is the time. Planning ahead will increase the chances of you having the quality of life, and death, that you want.