Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Crazy Idea?

So, I was listening to the Guardian's daily podcast today and they had a piece about organ donation. Even though I plan to live until I'm at least 100 and my organs will be held together with sellotape by that point (which will force me to my plan B - donating my body to a medical school), I am a big believer in organ donation. If I'm dead, I don't need them and somebody else does, so it seems like a simple equation to me.

Peter and my family know how I feel about this and somewhere, kicking around, I have an organ donor card. But what if something happens to us at the same time? Or they can't contact my family in a timely enough manner to save all the organs?

Don't get the wrong idea - I'm not totally macabre all the time, but these were just thoughts that flitted through my head as I listened to a young woman tell about her sister's terrible car accident and her long-held desire to be an organ donor.

So, then I wondered about getting a tattoo. I don't have any tattoos (although I came perilously close in 1994) but something small, some place discreet (but obviously not too discreet) to let the medical professionals know my wishes? And why stop there - can I get a little breathing apparatus with a an x-mark over it to show that I don't want to be kept alive through artificial mean?

OK, maybe strike that last one. But I am wondering about the feasibility of this. I've done a little cursory googling and it looks like there's some questions as to whether having tattoos excludes one from organ donating.

My questions, especially for medical professionals like The Rotten Correspondent:
  • Is this a crazy idea?
  • If not, what sort of tattoo would you suggest? Just the words?
  • What about placement?
  • Are tattoos a disqualification?


At 15 January 2008 at 21:03, Blogger Alison said...

never thought about a tatoo..I do feel the same as you. I went to the website for national organ donors and registered myself. They give you a card to put in your wallet next to your drivers license.

At 15 January 2008 at 22:05, Blogger SwampAngel65 said...

A very interesting thought... would it count, though? I mean, if a doctor saw it, would it be considered legal to use as your consent? Hmmm...very interesting indeed!

At 15 January 2008 at 23:01, Blogger Kaycie said...

Here in Oklahoma, you check a box when you get your drivers license renewed that indicates whether you want to donate organs. Since you sign it, I suppose it becomes a legal document.

I can't imagine what they would think about a tatoo. Personally, I'd wonder about the legality of it.

At 16 January 2008 at 00:41, Blogger laurie said...

i'm not sure that anybody would even look at your tattoos, let alone take them as legally binding.

if you don't have an organ donation box to check on your drivers license, i think you can carry an organ donor card in your wallet to indicate your preference.

generally, though, the organ donation people come around and ask the family when it looks like the patient is brain-dead or near brain-death....

i think having an organ donor card and letting your nearest and dearest know your wishes is about as far as you can go.

and that's plenty far. i say, bless you for caring this much.

At 16 January 2008 at 00:56, Blogger Sandy said...

I just found out that in the area where I live it doesn't matter what you do. The nearest organ donation program is too far away to harvest your organs. This may turn out to be my new cause.

At 16 January 2008 at 05:16, Blogger Sweet Irene said...

I always carry my organ donation card in my wallet. You may also consider getting a bracelet or a necklace with a tag on it saying you wish to donate organs.

At 16 January 2008 at 12:11, Blogger wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

What a different idea. Maybe there should be an international symbol that all hospitals could recognise?

At 16 January 2008 at 17:42, Blogger -Ann said...

I worry about what would happen to an organ donor card. I think I have one, but I don't know where it is. I don't carry a wallet or a purse usually - I'm a pockets sort of girl and things get mangled in pockets.

I don't think I was getting wrapped up in the legalities of it - I was more thinking of a way to have a say at the end and make sure my wishes were known. You know?

Sandy, it never occurred to me that you could be too far way to from a centre to be a donor. That's unsettling.

At 16 January 2008 at 22:45, Anonymous Harlequin said...

You can also check the organ donor thing on the back of your Irish driving licence or learner permit. And make sure that your next of kin know about it. Judging from Grey's Anatomy and er (those fine medical texts!!!), the docs tend to go pretty all out to find out who you are and if you'd donate once you are a viable candidate just a-waiting to offer up your juicy organs. So as long as they can ID you, you stand a pretty good chance. Maybe you could get a bracelet for it?

At 17 January 2008 at 08:32, Blogger mama speak said...

Ditto on the organ donation thing. The biggest thing, I think, is to make it clear to your closest family, even if they don't like it. Put it in writting too (get it notorized maybe) but make sure they all know, cause it'll be up to them at the time. Even if they don't like it, they'll probably honor it because you made it clear that it's what you wanted.

Also, I don't know about Ireland, but in the USA if you call 911 it's the same as giving the ok for resesitation. If you don't want to be put on a respirator you need to have a do not resesitate order on your medical file. (Happened w/my g'ma & it was awful. She didn't want to be on one, my g'pa had called 911 & they put her one & she was aware & kept asking to be pulled off and we couldn't cause of the 911 call.)

At 18 January 2008 at 19:44, Blogger The Rotten Correspondent said...

Okay, Blogger just ate my comment twice. Aargh.

Tattoos won't exclude you, but aren't legally binding. The best thing is to have a living will and specify organ donation in that. Even donor cards are iffy legally and the box on a driver's license doesn't stand up at all. There still needs to be consent.

Email me if I left something off.

At 19 January 2008 at 08:40, Blogger -Ann said...

Harlequinn - Yeah, most of my medical knowledge comes from tv too. :) That's probably where this obsession is coming from -the last show I watched that had the issue, the husband was refusing to go through with organ donation or something.

MS - A similar thing happened to my grandmother as well, although she never regained consciousness.

RC - Thanks for the advice - I knew that you would know the best way to do it.


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