Organ Donor Declarations

On the morning of July 21, 2009 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that there were 102,486 people waiting for organ transplants in the United States. Organ transplants occur when an organ, or part of an organ, is taken from an organ donor, who may be living or deceased, and transplanted into another body. It is an important part of modern medicine that is credited with saving many lives. However, in order for organ transplants to take place both doctors and donators must follow the provisions of organ transplant law.
Organ donation law is primarily governed by state law. The majority of states have passed the Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act which governs when and how a person may donate organs after his or her death. Like the previous versions of the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, organ donators must “opt in” and follow the legally mandated steps to be a potential organ donor. The opt in system exists so as to protect people from becoming organ donators if it is against their personal or religious beliefs. If the steps are not followed then it is presumed that the person did not wish to become an organ donor and his or her body will not be eligible for organ donation upon his or her death.
Things to Consider Before Signing Up to Be an Organ Donor
o        If you are under age 18 or the age needed to obtain a driver’s license in your state, you need the consent of your parent or legal guardian.
o        If you are HIV positive or have active cancer or a systemic infection then you are likely ineligible to be an organ donor.
o        Do you want to be a living donor? A living donor who qualifies can donate a kidney, part of his or her liver, lung, pancreas or intestine. Living donors can also donate tissues such as blood and bone marrow.
o        Do you want to be an organ donor after your death?
o        Do you want to donate your entire body to medical research after your death?
o        Have you made an affirmative statement of your desire to be an organ donor that is consistent with the requirements of the law in the state where you reside? In many states, legal documents such as your will, advance health care directive and your driver’s license can serve as your affirmative statement of your desire to be an organ donor. The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act also allows terminally ill or injured people to make an enforceable verbal statement indicating their desire to become an organ donor if that statement is made before two witnesses at least one of whom is impartial.
o        Which organs would you like to donate? Your donation can be limited to tissue, eyes or organs or inclusive of all types of organ donation.
Organ donation is an intensely personal decision. The law seeks to protect the donor and to allow each individual to make his or her decision regarding organ donation in a manner that cannot be misunderstood or misused. Therefore, if you are interested in becoming an organ donor then you should follow the rules set forth in your state and make an affirmative declaration of your intent to donate organs that will be followed upon your death.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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