Are you a donor?

By that, I mean are you registered to give your organs, or body parts, to someone who needs them in the event of your imminent death?

I am and it is in print on my driver's licence.

That allows medical staff to harvest whatever is useful of my ageing body to give to someone who desperately needs it to either live, or improve their life.


I know my eyesight is now suffering the post-50s issues of not being able to focus up close without magnification but, according to the medical tests, my other vital bits are okay to transplant.

Not sure about the brain though ...

Yes, it will still command your fingers to waggle, your feet to tap and your eyes to read, but you are also likely to shout out "Carn the Cats" - a reference to my beloved Geelong AFL team - "Go the Wallabies!" (self explanatory), or "beeping idiot driver" with very little forward notice.

You will also have a very deep knowledge about military and world history and, while holidaying overseas, will tend to want to visit historic battle sites and war museums.

You will also be an excellent speller.

Now I have been meaning to raise the issue of body parts donations for some time but something has always taken column precedence.

About a month ago, I renewed my licence and, when prompted, took the step to again register myself as a donor.

I did it because when I die my body is only going to be consumed by fire.

Not as some of my ancestors did - in a Viking boat set ablaze by a burning arrow - but in a wooden oblong box in a crematorium.

It will be sealed at my funeral so none of my loved ones will know what isn't there.

And, more importantly, other families will hopefully enjoy being with a relative for much longer than would be expected.

The only fly in the donation ointment would be if one of my family objected to my desire to help others.

Outrageously, this sort of family interference can halt a gift.

Personally, I don't think they would be so thoughtless. They are intelligent, caring, practical young people. But too many relatives are not. This is an area that needs to be settled in law - by Parliament - so that the wishes of the body, sorry donor, are carried out.

Who the heck are brothers, sisters, spouses, children to interfere with pre-ordained wishes?

A person's body is theirs to do with as they wish, in my view, for bad or, in the case of being a donor, for good.

The trouble is too few people living in this country donate body parts.

Last year only 53 people gave organs.

Out of 4.5 million people - that is really shocking.

And when you consider more than 550 people need transplants that tiny number looks even worse.

On a world scale, Kiwis are among the worst at registering to be a donor.

I have just seen a news item about a Yorkshire guy who has had his life restored with a pair of transplanted hands.

He lost his own in an industrial accident two years ago and the gift of a deceased donor has been profound.

Through amazing surgery and science, he now has hands that operate around 80 per cent as well as the ones he used to have before they were crushed.

He has his life back and what a precious gift that is.

Yes, someone had to die for that to happen, but we all go at some stage.

The important thing, to my way of thinking, is that - in death - we can make a difference to so many others.

It's easy enough to do when you renew your licence - just tick the box.

You could make such a huge difference to another person and his, or her, family if you do.

- Richard Moore is an award-winning Western Bay journalist and photographer.