The law on consent to organ donation is evolving, so changes to organ donation procedures are occurring in some states. Because the permission of your spouse, partner, parent or adult child may be required before your organs may be donated, it is vitally important to communicate with your family if you want to be an organ donor.In some states, legislation has been enacted which provides that once an organ donorís decision to donate organs is properly documented, consent of the donorís legal next of kin is not required after the donorís death. However, in other states, the next of kin must give written consent. In these states, the deceased individualís representative can prevent the donation by refusing consent or disputing the deceased individualís intentions. To find estate planning laws in your state, go to State Laws.
If you are concerned about whether your last wishes on organ donation will be honored, research the requirements to be an organ donor in your state. If your state is one in which next of kin must consent, ask your family members to honor your decision regarding organ donation. If you wish to exclude certain organs or tissues from being donated, communicate these memorial preferences to your family as well.Documenting your preferences on organ donation in your will or living trust is not an effective means of becoming an organ donor. Hospital staff or medical personnel need to be made aware of your decision immediately upon your death if your organs are to be preserved in time to help another person. Your estate planning documents are unlikely to be reviewed in time for your organ donation preferences to be enforced. If you want to help others by being an organ donor, follow all the recommended steps for becoming an organ donor in your state and talk openly with the people in your life to ensure your last wishes are carried out.
Forms to Become an Organ Donor
Here are steps you can take to signify your intentions to be an organ and tissue donor:1. Register with the organ donation registry in your state. For information on donor registries by state, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website on organ and tissue donation and transplantation. If you are interested in donating your whole body, contact medical schools near your home for information about local non-profits that accept whole body donations.2. Contact your stateís Department of Motor Vehicles for information on how to add your organ donor status to your driverís license. This is usually done at the time you apply for a new driverís license or renew your existing license, however, most states have a form or website you can use to designate yourself as an organ donor in between license renewals.
3. Print a uniform donor card online. Many different websites offer downloadable donor cards. Complete the uniform donor card and carry it in your wallet.4. Talk with your spouse, partner, children, parents or other next of kin and let them know your memorial preferences regarding organ donation. Discuss your plan to donate your organs and tissues with other family members as well. Ask your legal next of kin and other family members to carry out your last wishes after your death. Ask them to sign any paperwork that may be required after your death to enforce your decision to be an organ donor.
Can Family Choose Organ Donation for Me?
The decision to donate your body to science or to donate organs or tissues to a transplant recipient is a personal one. There are many reasons why it is important each person make his or her own decision about organ donation and then document that decision in accordance with applicable state laws.
If you want to be an organ donor, it is critical for hospital staff or emergency medical personnel to be made aware of your decision immediately upon your death. In order for organ transplantation to be possible, the donor must be matched with the recipient almost immediately after the donorís death, otherwise the organs cannot be used.
Your spouse, partner, parents, children, other heirs or your health care POA may not be present when you die. The executor of your will may not become known until weeks or even months after your death. If you plan to rely on such individuals to make the decision about organ donation for you, it is unlikely your organs and tissues will be used to save lives.
Even if your next of kin or agent for health care is nearby when you die, they may not know your last wishes on organ donation or may be uncomfortable making such a personal decision on your behalf. If you want to help others by becoming an organ donor or donating your body to science, take the necessary steps to document your decision on the appropriate forms and register with the organ donation registry in your state.