According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, more than 120,000 people in the United States are waiting for an organ and 18 of them die every day. A single organ donor has the potential to save as many as eight lives.

In 2012, approximately 2,250 donors were between the ages of 50 and 64, and 574 donors were over the age of 64. The oldest known donor was just short of 93 when he passed away, and his liver saved the life of a 69 year-old-woman.

People of any age can donate their organs, tissues or body parts, including the:

  • Heart: Coronary artery disease and other diseases of the heart may require this essential organ to be replaced.
  • Kidneys: The most common causes of kidney failure are diabetes, high blood pressure and polycystic kidney disease, and until a kidney is found, victims of these disorders must undergo dialysis on a regular basis.
  • Liver: Alcoholics are not the only ones who suffer from liver problems. Viral infections such as hepatitis C and genetic disorders are among the many causes of liver failure.
  • Pancreas: More than 1,300 people with pancreatic cancer and cystic fibrosis are awaiting pancreas donations.
  • Lungs: Lung donation can save the life of someone with cystic fibrosis, emphysema and other lung diseases.
  • Intestines: Donation of your intestines can save a person with a congenital defect, Crohn’s disease or another bowel disease.
  • Bones: Donated bone tissue can replace bone lost in accidents and to disease, repair spinal curvature (scoliosis) in children and strengthen replacements of hip and knee joints.
  • Other musculoskeletal tissue: A tendon, ligament or meniscus can allow a severely injured person to return to normal physical activity.
  • Skin: Burn victims, other accident victims, individuals with severe infections and women requiring breast reconstruction following a mastectomy all benefit from donated skin.

You can make an anatomical gift under The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act by noting this on your driver license, but you can put more specific instructions in your advance medical directive.

Contact the elder law attorneys at The Law Firm of Armstrong & Lamberti, PLLC to learn more about an advance medical directive, one of the most important and overlooked estate planning documents.

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