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SENIOR ADVOCATE

By Liza Horvath

 

More on Donations

 

Last week I wrote about the benefits of donating our organs to others, either during life or at death, and entire body donations to a university or science research center. Gauging by the volume of phone calls and emails we received after the column was published it appears that this is a topic of interest to many. let me share a few of those remarks and also attempt to clear up some disinformation about organ and body donation.

 

One reader said that it is her understanding that when a person dies and organs are donated, that the hospital's "harvesting" costs are charged to the family or to the decedent's estate. This is not true. Brenda Moore, Assistant Director of Communication and Marketing at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, states that, "The costs of procurement are not passed on to a donor's insurer or survivors and this is in keeping with federal and state guidelines."

 

The California Transplant Donor Network, an organization designated by the federal government to serve as a link between organ and tissue donors and individuals awaiting transplantation, works with hospitals in Northern California and Northern Nevada to facilitate donations. Tony Borders, Communications Manager with the California Transplant Donor Network outlined the process. "When a donor is deemed to have a non-survivable injury and has either previously completed the consent forms or if the individual's family will consent to donation," Border says, "tests are completed and, if the organs are suitable for donation, they are removed by the hospital. Our organization assumes the costs associated with harvesting the organs and tissue."

 

Generous people that will their body to the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, must agree that after the school has completed its research, that the body can be cremated and ashes disposed of in a suitable manner. Remains or ashes will not be returned to the family. Science Care, an organization with multiple facilities nationwide, takes whole body donations and makes usable organs and tissue available for transplant or research. Additionally, ashes from cremation can be returned to the family upon request. Science Care takes their services one step further and will provide a report to the family about how the donations contributed to the furtherance of research or to another's life and will also plant a tree in the donor's name. The willed body program at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine can be reached at (415) 476-1981 and the Science Care center can be reached either at www.ScienceCare.com or 1-800-417-3747.

 

The options for donation are multiple so do your research and choose the one that feels right to you. Then, do the necessary legal work that includes an Advance Health Care Directive - setting out how you want to be treated before death and that can also address organ donation and complete donation consent forms with the organization of your choice if you wish to donate your body.

 

Make sure your friends and loved ones are comfortable with your decisions and have them commit to honoring those decisions. It is your life and death - do yourself and your family a favor: make your desires very clear and also legally binding.

 

Liza Horvath has over 30 years experience in the estate planning and trust fields and is the president of Monterey Trust Management, a financial and trust management company. This is not intended to be legal or tax advice. If you have a questions call (831)646-5262 or email liza@montereytrust.com

 


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