Give the gift of life after your death Print
Thursday, Apr. 12, 2018 -- 12:00 AM

On the back of my driver’s license, I have signed an anatomical gift statement which says: “Upon my death, I wish to donate all organs, tissues, or eyes.”

I believe being an organ and tissue donor is one way that I can help save and heal other lives, even after I die. It is estimated that one donor can save up to eight lives.

April is designated as National Donate Life Month. This is a time to encourage people to consider being an organ, tissue, and eye donor.

Hospital encourages donation

SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital-Madison was among more than 85 Donate Life Wisconsin member and partner hospital organizations that participated in a statewide Donate Life Flag raising ceremony and moment of silence on April 2 to promote the mission of organ, tissue, and eye donation and to honor donors and their families.

More than 114,000 patients in our country are waiting for a life-saving transplant. Of those patients, more than 2,000 are waiting in Wisconsin.

One family’s story

The U.S. government website features statistics and many personal life stories of organ donation. One of them is called, “Family turns tragedy into blessing for many.” I’ve included part of their story.

In 2005, Tribhawan and Jasmin did not know much about organ donation. But when their 21-year-old son, Anand, suffered fatal head injuries in a car accident, the attending nurse gently encouraged them to consider donation. They agreed and their son’s heart, liver, kidneys, and pancreas were transplanted to save the lives of six people.

Now Anand’s family takes every opportunity to tell others about organ donation. Tribhawan is a volunteer for TransLife in Florida, the National Donor Family Council, and the National Kidney Foundation, and he frequently shares his family’s story.

“Anand was this terrific guy, this loving guy,” he recalls. “What a waste it would have been if we hadn’t donated his organs. We are very happy that we made the best decision.”

Anand’s family members have made contact with four of their son’s recipients and are comforted to know that their son’s donation has helped others. “This is a blessing that we were able to make a difference in their lives,” he says. “Some of them are having children, some are having grandchildren.”

Tribhawan also urges others to register to become organ donors. “No one knows when they may die, but when you go, you can leave a legacy,” he says. “Should anything happen to you, you will be a blessing to somebody’s family. As long as the sun shines, you will be remembered.”

Catholic teaching

The Catholic Church has no objection in general terms to organ donation.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains in section 2296: “Organ transplants are in conformity with the moral law if the physical and psychological dangers and risks to the donor are proportionate to the good sought for the recipient. Organ donation after death is a noble and meritorious act and is to be encouraged as an expression of generous solidarity.

“It is not morally acceptable if the donor or his proxy has not given explicit consent. Moreover, it is not morally admissible to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons.”

In an address given in 2000, St. John Paul II repeated what he had said in his encyclical on the Gospel of Life, when he stated that organ donation can be a way of nurturing a culture of life.

Registering as a donor

In Wisconsin, you can register as an organ, tissue, and eye donor at or at a Wisconsin DMV Service Center.

It’s easy to do, and you can be pleased to know that you, too, could save lives upon your death.