For many people, this time of year means connecting with loved ones from near and far. Coming together in this way provides the opportunity to discuss the lifesaving decision to become an organ donor and to communicate your wishes to those nearest and dearest to you. It is not uncommon for a person to want to record their wish to become an organ donor in their Will. However, because a Will does not operate until a person’s death and is often not read for some time after death, there are better options for people to record their wishes to donate their organs.

The Australian Organ Donor Register (the Donor Register) is the only national register for people aged 16 years or older to record their decision about becoming an organ and tissue donor. There are a number of ways you can register to be an organ donor including, but not limited to, the following:-

Even if you have previously registered your decision elsewhere (for example on your driver’s licence), it is important to register your donation decision on the Donor Register. This is because in NSW, you can no longer register a donation decision via your driver’s licence.

Secondly, people can record their wish for organ and tissue donation in their Appointment of Enduring Guardian. This is not a substitute for registering as an organ donor. An Appointment of Enduring Guardian is a legal document that gives a person the power to say who they want to have authority to make medical and lifestyle decisions for them if through accident, illness or misadventure a person loses the ability to make decisions for themselves.

Finally, it is important that you discuss your wishes with your family as they will have the final say. Family are more likely to follow your wishes if they already know about them. If over time your views or goals change, it is important that you let your family and enduring guardian(s) know.

Presently there are some 1,750 Australians on the waitlist for an organ transplant and a further 12,000 having kidney dialysis who would benefit from a transplant. Only 1 in 3 Australians have joined the Donor Register, even though statistics reveal the majority of Australians would like to donate their organs after they die. This reinforces why it is important to register, and equally important for donors to make your loved ones aware of registration. Taking the time to have these conversations could help save the lives of people currently spending their Christmas waiting for a transplant.

If you need assistance in any estate planning matter, please contact Everingham Solomons, because Helping You is Our Business.

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