Donation after 60: Five Truths about Giving the Gift of Life

More than 114,000 people are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. The lives of these individuals depend on others stepping forward to offer a second chance at life through organ and tissue donation. Approximately 56% of eligible Nebraskans are registered as donors, but at age 60, that number decreases to 45% and continues to decline for older ages.

That decrease may be the result of common misconceptions. Here are some important facts to consider about donation in older adults:  

1. You’re never too old to register as a donor.

With age comes wisdom. But when it comes to donation in our golden years, there’s still a lot to be learned. Many people wrongly assume that they’re not eligible for donation after a certain point in life. The simple fact is that anyone in Nebraska over the age of 16 can register as an organ and tissue donor.

Individuals over the age of 60 commonly donate kidneys, liver, corneas, bone, tendons and skin. These gifts not only save lives, they also improve the quality of life for thousands of sick and injured people each year.

When Karen Harn’s husband, Allen, passed away at age 71, Karen questioned how he could help others. The outcome of Allen’s liver donation is still making a lasting impact on others.

2. Medical conditions don’t prevent you from registering as a donor.

Nationwide, over 90% of individuals are said to support organ and tissue donation. Oftentimes individuals with good intentions do not register as a donor, or even take themselves off the donor registry, because of a health concern.

Many are surprised to learn that there are no medical conditions that prevent someone from registering as a donor. Successful transplants have occurred from individuals with diabetes, heart conditions and even a history of cancer.

Every death that occurs within a hospital is evaluated for donation. If you support donation, make your wishes official and register as a donor. Medical professionals will determine if others can benefit from your organs and tissues when you no longer need them.

3. Let your family know how you feel about donation.

Donation is a personal choice. But the donation process itself almost always involves the deceased’s family and caregivers. Registering as a donor is the only way to ensure your wishes to donate are honored at the time of your death. If an individual is registered, his or her family member’s opposition to donation, if any, cannot prevent donation from occurring.

On the other hand, if you’re not registered, your family will be asked to consider donation and make a decision on your behalf. Making sure your loved ones understand your position on donation will ease the burden of making a decision during a stressful time.

4. You can have an open-casket funeral.

A common question about donation often relates to the possibility of having a viewing following donation. The donor’s body is treated with great respect throughout the donation process and donation organizations like Nebraska Organ Recovery make it a priority to understand and honor the donor family’s wishes for funeral services. Clothing covers any incisions made during recovery, and embalming and reconstruction techniques ensure a normal appearance.  

5. There’s no cost to donate.

An individual who gives of them self so others can be saved our healed is considered a hero. The cost of recovering organs and tissues is covered by the donation organization and never passed on to a donor’s family or estate. However, the cost of life-saving hospital efforts prior to organ donation, as well as funeral expenses, are not covered by the donation organization.

If you're ready to register as a donor, you don't have to wait until your next trip to the DMV. Register online now or contact us with any questions on your mind.

Posted: August 21, 2018

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