Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Willing Organ Donor Also Needs Family's Consent

DEAR ABBY: April 20-26 is Organ Donor Week. Because there is a shortage of donors, more than 49,000 Americans are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants.

For those who have decided to be donors: First and foremost, INFORM YOUR FAMILY! Even if you have signed an organ donor card (many states use the back of the driver's license), your family must consent to the donation before it can occur.

Abby, in the past you have printed a beautiful composition regarding organ donation. Printing it again could help in promoting donor awareness. Please do it for all of those who are waiting for the gift of life.

As a heart recipient, and on behalf of all other organ recipients, I want to express my gratitude to the families who, in the midst of their grief, generously donated the organs of their loved ones. Thank you and may God bless you. -- JACK ADAMS, HOOVER, ALA.

DEAR MR. ADAMS: Thank you for a powerful letter, and for the reminder that National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week is a time of tribute to the thousands of compassionate and generous donor families who have consented to the gift of life, so that others might live.

Organs are matched with people on a national waiting list according to blood and tissue type and medical need, among other factors. The system of organ allocation is fair and highly ethical. Contrary to what some believe, most religions consider organs the ultimate charitable gift.

It is vital that individuals who wish to become organ donors discuss their decision with their families, since family consent is required.

The essay "To Remember Me," written by the late Robert Test, first appeared in my column in 1977. Copies suitable for framing may be obtained from The Living Bank, P.O. Box 6725, Houston, Texas 77005. The Living Bank also provides informational literature and organ donor cards. Information and donor cards can also be obtained from the National Kidney Foundation, 30 E. 33rd St., New York, N.Y. 10016, or contact your local organ procurement organization.