Copyright 1994 American Bar Association, Reprint Rights Granted
Why Consider Organ and Tissue Donation?
Because of a woman named Cathy, who was diagnosed with bone cancer as
a teenager. Cathy survived her cancer, but she suffered severe heart
damage from the cancer-fighting drugs she took. To stay alive, she would
need a heart transplant. One of the lucky ones, Cathy received a new
heart. In February 1993, she gave birth to her first child.
Because of a little girl named Sara, who was diagnosed with an
enlarged ear when she was only six months old. Doctors warned that she
would never see her first Christmas without a heart transplant, that
such a procedure had never been performed on an infant as young as Sara.
Miraculously, Sara got the heart she needed. Today, she lives the life
of a normal eight-year old.
More than 35,000 people like Cathy and Sara are waiting for a second
chance at life through an organ transplant. Tragically, nearly a third
won't live long enough to be matched with an organ donor. This is
because individuals and their families did not consider organ donation
-- our of fear, ignorance or misunderstanding.
The American Bar Association and other professional and civic
associations are helping to increase awareness and understanding of the
benefits of organ/tissue donation. This brochure provides you with some
basic facts about organ/tissue donation and tells you how you may become
Transplants Give Thousands Each Year Second Change at Life
Some 18,000 organ transplants are performed in the U.S.A. each year.
Organs that are transplanted successfully include the heart, lungs,
liver, kidneys and pancreas.
In addition, tissue grafts are becoming widely used by doctors in the
fields of orthopedic surgery, cardiovascular surgery, plastic surgery,
dentistry and podiatry. From repairing severe fractures and degenerative
conditions to helping increase the chances of survival for burn victims,
tissue grafts are saving lives. More than 400 people each month receive
the gift of sight through yet another type of tissue donation -- corneal
transplants. In many cases, donors unsuitable for organ donation are
eligible for tissue donation.
Years of experience and major advances in science, medicine and
technology have made it possible to perform many successful transplants.
But all the sophisticated medical technology is useless if there are not
enough people willing to become organ and tissue donors.
The Lawyer's Role in Organ/Tissue Donation
ABA member attorneys are trusted advisors to their clients. Through
organ/tissue donation, attorneys can help clients bequeath the gift of
life. Probate and estate planning lawyers, in particular, should
consider making organ/tissue donation a routine topic for discussion
with their clients.
By helping clients who want to become organ and tissue donors
memorialize their wish, attorneys will serve both their clients and the
However, an attorney will want to address the concerns clients
typically have regarding the donation process.
Text by Steve Barnill & Company, Inc. Houston, Texas
Funded in part by a grant from The American College of Trust and
Estate Counsel Foundation