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Estate planning is an ideal time to address final wishes, from the care of our possessions and assets to how we’d like our lives commemorated, all in effort to ease the emotional burden and responsibility of those we’ll leave behind. One of the greatest ways to leave a lasting legacy is by giving the gift of life to others through organ, eye and tissue donation.

As of Aug.17, Ohio House Bill 7 states Ohioans are no longer able to designate “anatomical gifts” in their last will and testament or living will document as accessing these documents and taking designated action can be a lengthy process. When it comes to donation, time is of the essence to ensure donated organs are matched with and transplanted to those with a vital need.

Nationally, there are more than 100,000 individuals in need of a life-saving organ transplant and in Ohio alone we have more than 3,000 on the transplant list. While data shows a majority of Ohioans feel positively about organ, tissue and eye donation, only 58% are actually registered donors.

The best way to make your donation wishes known is by joining the Ohio Donor Registry either at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or on the website of your local organ procurement organization. At the time of death, donor organizations and tissue banks are able to access your donor registration, helping to expedite the process of getting your life-saving gifts to those in need.

Facts to know about organ, eye and tissue donation:

• One person can potentially save eight lives through organ donation and heal more than 75 through tissue donation,

• There is no age limit on organ, tissue and eye donors. Gifts from donors of all ages can be viable for transplant and help save lives,

• All major religions in the U.S. support organ, eye and tissue donation as an act of compassion and generosity,

• Organ and tissue donation, in essentially all cases, will not impact funeral arrangements including the desire to have an open casket service, and

• Organ donation is anonymous. Both the donor families and recipients must agree for identifying information to be shared.

It’s important to create conversation with loved ones around your decision to join the donor registry. Your “yes” can leave a lasting legacy by helping to heal and save the lives of others.

Heather Mekesa is COO of Lifebanc in Warrensville Heights.

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