Most of us get through the day because we believe that nothing horrible is going to happen to us or our loved ones. But despite that, we need to make out wills (::coughaviweneedtotalkcough::) and we need to be signed up as organ donors or have the paperwork to donate our bodies to science.
As Orac notes, the latter requires a greater leap of faith in the medical profession, because you have no control over what they will do with your body. Personally, I don’t care what’s done with my body once I’m done with it. If an organ can save someone’s life, great. If it can be used to teach future doctors anatomy, great. If it can be used in medical research, great.
I hope I will never have to decide about my children’s bodies—no parent should ever have to outlive their child. But if that day comes, I hope I can bring myself to say the same about them. If some catastrophe occurs, I hope they can help someone else or help medical science, because an empty body is no comfort.
I hope that all of you have some kind of documentation in place to let your loved ones and doctors know of your wishes. For example, my driver’s license notes that I wish to donate my organs. In addition, I have a card (signed in college and witnessed by the man I eventually married and another friend) that notes that I am willing to either donate my organs or donate my whole body.
I have also spoken with my husband, my parents, my sister, and my friends to be sure they know of my wishes. (As an aside, I’ve also mentioned to all of them my desire to not be kept for an extended period on life support. If I’m gone, let me go.) Let there be no confusion as to my wishes, please.
Another method of making your wishes known is your will. There are places to find a legal form explaining this, for example. (Although a form like that obviously has to go along with talking to your family about it, or they’ll find out a bit too late!)
We all hate to think about our own death or the death of our loved ones (see: my lack of a will) but they’re important. I would hate to waste my last chance to make the world a better place.
Please, if you don’t have a signed donor card or other paperwork, think about getting something in writing.