Views expressed in this blog are mine alone and are not intended to represent Williamson County policy nor intended as legal advice.
We’ve talked about death and inquests. Now, let’s talk about donating your organs and/or body after death. There are several ways your decisions today can help numerous others after your death. You can donate organs, tissue and even your full body.
Williamson County JPs and United Tissue Resources are committed to promoting tissue donation in our county. From the United Tissue Resources website:
Most people have heard of organ donation, but tissue donation is not as commonly discussed. Yet it is actually much more common. Organ donation includes the life-saving gift of solid organs such as heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and small bowel. Patients must be declared brain dead and maintained on mechanical support. Waiting recipients are on a list and receive organs based on the severity of need.
Tissue donation is a life-enhancing and often life-saving gift of bone, skin, heart valves, veins, and connective tissue. These gifts are surgically removed after the heart stops beating. There is no waiting list for tissue recipients.
You can sign up at www.donatelifetexas.org to become a living donor. If you have a heart on your driver’s license, you’re already on the list. Some FAQs about tissue donation:
• You can have an open casket funeral
• Tissue can still be donated if an autopsy is performed
• Rejection of tissue grafts is uncommon since blood type matching is not needed
• Donated tissues can be preserved and viable for up to 5-10 years
Donating your body can take several paths. Several organizations will accept a body for donation after tissue or organ donation. These organizations typically cover the cost of transporting the body to their research facility, cremating the body after studies are completed, and returning the cremated remains to the family, usually in less than eight weeks. The following programs are examples:
Anatomy Gifts Registry
United Tissue Network
Alternatively, you can donate your body to the Texas State Forensic Anthropology department. FACTS will take your body after death and transport it to San Marcos and their body farm. Transportation within 200 miles is free of charge. Because their studies involve observing the natural decomposition of the body, they do not cremate any portion of the remains and no part of the body is returned to the family. Unlike the other whole-body donation programs, your remains will be used multiple times with the Texas State program.
Don’t forget that the body’s condition at the time of death may prevent donation, even if you are registered with one of these programs. Having a back-up plan for your final arrangements is advised.
Talk to your family about these programs and make your wishes known ahead of time. Register with the programs of your choice now.