Can Your Family Prevent Your Organ Donation?

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Opting to donate your organs in an emergency scenario is your choice, but what sway does your family have in the matter?

Donating your organs after death is a compassionate act that has the power to save a life. Approximately 92,000 people in the United States need an organ transplant and each year about 6,000 die waiting for one. Unfortunately, family members sometime attempt to prevent the dying person’s wishes. What does the law say and what steps can organ donors take to ensure their wishes are carried out?

The Uniform Anatomic Gift Act (UAGA)

Passed in 1968, the Uniform Anatomic Gift Act provides the legal blueprint for organ donation. This law states that any individual who is at least 18-years-old and mentally competent can legally donate his organs after death. Every state had adopted some form of the UAGA by 1973, but inconsistencies in state laws led to two significant revisions, the first in 1987 and the second in 2006. The 2006 UAGA, invoking the legal principle of “first person consent,” asserts that family members haveno legal right to counter the dying person’s decision. Most, though still not all, states have passed laws embracing this concept. Family members in states which have notfully embraced the 2006 law might still be asked to give their consent.

Making Sure Your Wishes Are Carried Out:  The Steps You Need to Take

You need to protect your rights and ensure that your wishes are carried out. Here are the steps you should take to make your decision clear and final: 1. ** Register With Your State’s Organ Donor Registry. - Each state has its own registration process. Registering authorizes health care professionals to recover your organs for donation. - Be sure to carry your donor card with you at all times. **2. ** Indicate That You Are an Organ Donor on Your Driver’s License** - The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) allows you to indicate you are a registered organ donor on your license. Do so when you renew your license. 3. ** Inform Your Family of Your Decision** - In most states family members will not be asked for consent. Still, it is a good idea to let them know your intention to donate your organs to avoid unnecessary confusion. 4. ** Consult an Attorney** - Your attorney might recommend that you obtain a durable power of attorney for healthcare to protect your rights, particularly if there is a possibility your decision will be challenged. The law provides that you have the right to donate your organs after death — family members cannot override that decision. Nevertheless, it is in your best interest to take appropriate actions to ensure your decision is clear and that your wishes are carried out. Photo Credit: Abel Pardo Lopez via Flickr.Powered by

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