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3 things to know about organ donation

It's National Donate Life Month, which is a great time to consider something you might not have talked about when discussion your other estate plans. If you've already worked with an estate planning professional to create a will and determine how you want your assets handled after you are gone, you're ahead of many Americans. But, have you considered what your body might be able to accomplish even after you are gone? For many people, organ donation is a way to continue giving back to others. Here are three things you should know.

First, organ donation doesn't mean sacrificing your own medical treatment. Despite what you might see in movies or hear on social media, doctors and nurses don't go searching hospitals for potential organ donations so they can hurry sick people into the grave. No matter what your status is as an organ donor, ethical medical professionals treat you first without other considerations.

Second, organ donation in the United States is run by a strict set of standards and a computer database, ensuring no favorites are played. The system also helps to match those waiting for organs to organs that are available as quickly as possible. Matches have to be completed by blood and tissue type, body size and even geographic location. The database also considers how long someone has been waiting, the medical viability of a transplant and the urgency of the medical need.

Finally, it's important to share your wishes about organ donation with your family. Even after completing forms or indicating a preference on a driver's license, make sure you inform your loved ones and let your estate planning attorney know. Good communication can help reduce surprises and shock during a time when family may already be grieving.

Source: United Network for Organ Sharing, "Facts about organ donation," accessed April 07, 2017

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