Do Not Resuscitate This Tattoo. Or the Person Attached to It.
Medical Alert Tattoo Replaces Bracelet on Type 1 Diabetic
Susan Kreimer, AARP Bulletin (June 6, 2012)
Medical Alert Tattoos. This is my new favorite tattooing term. It is the perfect blend of utility, pragmatism and bad ass ink.
We’ve been covering Memorial Tattoos for a while on Death Ref and you can see those posts here.
All credit goes to the AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) for publishing this short article on its members who choose different kinds of Medical Alert Tattoos. I already knew about the Do Not Resuscitate tattoos. In December 2008, an older Death with Dignity activist in New Zealand gained international attention when she got her own DNR tattoo. And in late 2011, an 81-year old British woman did the same thing.
The AARP discusses other MAT’s (a new tattooing acronym!), such as putting ‘Type-1 Diabetic’ on a person’s wrist.
I fully support the use of Medical Alert Tattoos. 100%. Indeed, these tattoos represent a form of older person activism that I really respect.
MAT’s also give the grandkids something to tell their friends about.
But any Medical Alert Tattoo, especially a Do Not Resuscitate tattoo, comes with a cautionary note: the status quo is still a piece of jewelry or a written order. The tattoos won’t necessarily register as a person’s officially and legally recognized choice. Paradoxically as that sounds.
The AARP also flags up this issue:
A word of caution: First responders aren’t trained to look for tattoos, and skin damage in accidents can obscure them, says Rebecca Dinan Schneider, spokeswoman for the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. “Medical alert jewelry is still the standard.”
One day this will change. And perhaps sooner than we might imagine.