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“When I got sick, I looked at my [living] will again, including my advance directive, and made some changes. Then, I sat down with my sons and my husband and shared my wishes with them. Knowing they understood my wishes relieved some stress during a very difficult time.”

—Debi, transplant recipient


If you haven’t done so already, you should prepare an advance directive, commonly called a living will.

There are 2 parts in an advance directive:

  1.  Living will – Tells what kind of care you would or would not want if you become unable to speak for yourself.
  2. Durable power of attorney for health care – Lets you choose someone who can make medical decisions for you. This person might also be called a health care agent, proxy or surrogate.

Having an advance directive isn’t enough. Talking with your family and transplant team about the wishes you put in your living will is just as important. When they know what you want, they aren’t left wondering what kind of care you would or would not want if you become unable to speak.

Advance directives can be helpful throughout your treatment. For example, if you are very sick during treatment, there could be times when you can’t tell your doctors what you want. Your transplant team can turn to your appointed person and your advance directive during these times.

Before your transplant, here are some steps you can take to make sure your health care
wishes are followed:

  • Ask your nurse or social worker to help you prepare an advance directive
  • Make copies of your advance directive and share it with your family and all your doctors
  • Talk to your family and doctors about your wishes
  • Keep your advance directive in a safe place
  • Check with your hospital and clinic to see if your advance directive can be added to your medical record

An advance directive can be changed at any time and for any reason. As you go through treatment, your goals and wishes may change. If they do, change your advance directive. Be sure to have conversations with your family and doctors about how your wishes have changed.