Butch For Blog

By: Butch Meriwether

Just about everyone has heard of the term “the gift that keeps on giving.”

That catchphrase has been used in advertising to promote products as far back as 1925. The first reference to it was allegedly for a company promoting the first talking machines and/or phonographs. However, its origin is actually difficult to pinpoint because so many companies feel that their products embody this idea.

It has been associated selling gifts for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day; Playboy Magazine subscriptions (the last issue was February 2016); gift of the month subscriptions such as wine and cheese clubs; male enhancement drugs; and most recently, for some political strategists who believe, Having Obamacare is like being in the beer of the month club – every month, you get a new care package in the mail,” just to name a few.

Today, the gift that keeps on giving is now associated with people who have passed and have risen to Heaven or those unlucky enough to have gone “the other way,” and want to carry on their legacy by donating their body to helping others, science and medical research.

Numerous websites and research facilities conservatively estimate that there are more than 125,000 men, women and children who are awaiting life-saving organ transplants in the United States. Each day, an average of 79 people receive organ transplants, but sadly enough, about 22 people die each day waiting for transplants that can’t take place because of the shortage of donated organs.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, becoming a donor of organs such as a cornea, heart, pancreas, lung, liver, kidney, intestine, eye, and other tissue donation and transplantation can provide a second chance at life for thousands of people each year. The say, “You have the opportunity to be one of the individuals who make these miracles happen.”

It is extremely simple to become a donor and even the various state motor vehicle departments allow individuals to register through them as an organ donor. If residing in Arizona and if a person would like an organ and tissue donor designation — DONOR — on their driver license or identification card, all they have to do is visit ServiceArizona.com on the worldwide web and check the appropriate box on their driver license/identification card application. People can also visit their local Motor Vehicle Department office and fill out the form to have a DONOR designation or contact the AZ Donor Registry at (800) 94-DONOR or (800) 943-6667.

There are numerous companies and organizations who actively solicit donors for their causes. Most of them cremate the body after they are finished with it and then return an urn with the ashes to the donors’ families at no charge.

The only cost to families associated with receiving a death certificate is what the individual counties charge. Mohave County charges $20 for a death certificate and it can be obtained by either visiting the county’s Health Department at 700 W. Beale St., Kingman or mailing them at 700 W. Beale St., Kingman, Ariz., 86401. For further information and what is needed to receive a death certificate, call their offices at (928) 753-0748.

Just some of the companies and organizations involved in organ donations and bodies for transplants, science and medical research include, but are not limited to:

Legacy Foundation – 1 (888) 774-4438 – covers body donations for all states located within the continental U.S., except Minnesota. The only cost to the family members is the cost of the death certificate.

Science Care – 1 (800) 417-3747 – has locations in Arizona (based out of Phoenix), California, Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas, and Science Care can facilitate body to science donations from all states in the U.S. except Mew Mexico and New Jersey (due to state specific laws).

Donor Network of Arizona (DNA)(602) 222-2200 or 1-800-94-DONOR – relies on professional partners throughout the state to make the incredible gifts of organs, eyes and tissue donation possible. Their partners include hospital professionals, hospice organizations, medical examiners, funeral directors and eye surgeons.

United Tissue Network (UTN) – 1 (877) 725-2492 – has a location in Arizona and once the research or organ removal has been completed, they cremate the body, return the ashes to the family and they also provide two free copies of the death certificate.

In Arizona, there are no state laws governing where you may keep or scatter ashes. Cremation renders ashes harmless, so there is no public health risk involved, but people should use common sense and refrain from scattering ashes in places where they would be obvious to others.

There are various ways to save or dispose of cremated ashes of their loved ones.

People are allowed to scatter ashes on their own private property, but if they want to scatter ashes on someone else’s private land, it’s wise to get permission from the landowner.

If a person wants to scatter the ashes of a loved one at sea, the federal Clean Water Act requires that cremated remains be scattered at least three nautical miles from land.

Before hooking up that boat to the back of your truck to head out to Lake Mohave or Lake Mead to scatter their loved one’s ashes on the lake, people must realize scattering of ashes in the lakes is illegal. They can, however, purchase a permit for $150 to scatter ashes within the boundaries of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, but be at least 100 yards away from any body of water, trail or any inhabited area of the recreation area. For further information and to receive a permit, contact the Lake Mead National Recreation Area at (702) 293-8931.

Bureau of Land Management has specific regulations dealing with the scattering of cremated ashes. Scattering of ashes is not allowed in streams, lakes, and/or developed recreation sites. They do allow scattering of cremated ashes as a small, private activity, held away from high visitor-use areas. No publicity may be given to the activity. Ashes must be scattered at least 100 yards from any trail, road, developed facility or body of water. They must spread the ashes over an area in a manner that makes them indistinguishable to the public. No markers or memorials may be left on site. For further information, call the BLM Kingman Field Office at (928) 718-3700 or the BLM Colorado District Office in Lake Havasu City at 928) 505-1200.

This may sound a bit creepy to some, but instead of having the urn with the ashes of a loved one just sit on the mantel of the fireplace or paying for internment in a cemetery, why not consider an alternative method. Why not give to everyone something that will actually be seen for decades and in some cases, an eternity. People can plant a tree and place the cremated ashes into the hole while planting a tree.

Ashes, whether from human, animal, or plant, make rather poor fertilizer or a nutrient source; however, they are comprised of carbon which can be useful to improve many soil properties such as helping to retain nutrients and water in the soil, lowering soil compaction, and reducing risks of soil erosion.

It is estimated that nine out of 10 people never tell anyone their end-of-life wishes, 45 percent of people die without a will, 80 percent of people express a wish to die at home and 20 percent get to do so.

Don’t make it a “crap shoot” for the surviving family members and friends. Every person who decides to become an organ donor for transplant purposes or as whole-body donor for medical research and education, needs to ensure their desires is documented prior to their death.

The best methods are designating your decision on your driver’s license, tell your family about your donation decision, and tell your physician, faith leader and friends. And include donation in your advance directives, will, and living will.

Let your legacy continue for those in need through one of the various companies and organizations by donating their body for organ transplants, science and medical research.