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Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Tough Topic: Final Instructions

According to the Tennessee Organ Donor website, only 2% of people are ever "brain dead" or in a permanent vegetative state prior to death. Still, the sad headlines from Florida this week are proof that it can and does happen. We've already experienced an unexpected sudden death in our Nelson family this year, and we all run the gauntlet of Nashville commuter traffic daily. To spare your family unneeded grief, and to possibly save several lives, please consider thinking these issues through and act sooner rather than later. 1. Be an Organ Donor- If your life can't be saved, you can save many others by signing an organ donor card. 2. Make your wishes known- Terri Schiavo was only 26 when she became debilitated. Talk to your loved ones this week and put any final wishes or instructions in writing and in your lock box. 3. Execute a Living Will and/or Power of Attorney- The controversy over what you want done or who can make decisions for you is best settled ahead of time. 4. Know the Definition of Heroic Measures- Another problem in the Schiavo case was the controversy over heroic vs. ordinary measures. Are nutrition and hydration heroic when you cannot feed yourself? Or, are they ordinary measures and thus allowable if you direct that no "heroic" measures are to be taken to prolong your life? Your attorney, legal aid, or the legal advisor in our company EAP can help you define your specific intent and express it in clear language. 5. Know What Your Church Teaches- Your don't have to reinvent the wheel. Your church may have specific teachings on resuscitation that you should know before making these decisions. Clear direction, well-considered and informed by faith, is an act of kindness done now that continues on after you're gone. Contact your HR Representative, or call me, if you want more information about organ donation or legal assistance through your EAP.