Until recently, a person's decision to be an organ donor was potentially hindered by the fact the final determination was actually left to that person's next of kin upon his/her passing. A common assumption has been we personally decide the fate of our own organs by indicating such a wish on our driver's license, but that still doesn't guarantee those wishes will be honored.
However, in 2006, a new law was passed that created a New York State Donor Registry for individuals interested in donating their organs and tissue. This new registry allows individuals to be in charge of their own wishes and to consent to organ donation prior to their passing. Once you're placed on the registry, your family will be notified of your decision to donate your organs; but, they will not be required to give consent to the procedure to be carried out. Individuals can start the registration process on-line at www.donatelifeny.org.
If you're thinking about registering as an organ donor and/or tissue donor yourself, rest assured your organs will only be considered for donation after all possible medical options have been exhausted to preserve your life. Saving your life will always be top priority for the doctors treating you, and your medical treatment will never be compromised because you are an organ donor.
Please don't exclude yourself as a potential organ donor simply because of your age. The oldest documented organ donor in the United States was 96 years old! In fact, the usability of organs is based on the health of the organ in question, not your chronological age.
If you're interested in becoming an organ donor, then register. Ultimately, you'll be letting the doctor decide whether you're an appropriate candidate.
The Senior Connection is a column provided by the Clinton County Office for the Aging. For more information about services for senior citizens, contact their office at 135 Margaret St., Suite 105, Plattsburgh or call them at 565-4620.