Organ Donation Statement/More Info


Organ Donation Statement
Additional Information 
  
The Organ Donation Statement form permits a prospective donor to reduce to writing his or her exact wishes about the use of one or more body parts.  With a written statement, there is much greater chance that the donor's wishes will be properly carried out.  Donors may specify what parts are available, to whom they may be given, and how they may be used.  For example, you may feel it inappropriate to donate body parts for medical research, but are more than willing to donate items for transplant.  You may also desire that  parts go to a particular doctor or institution for handling.  You may make these specific directions using this form. 

After the document is properly executed, copies should be given to the donor's personal physician and next of kin.  A copy should also be given to any named donee.  Additionally, a copy should be kept with a Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney, and any other similar important personal documents.  

Because time is often critical in determining the right to harvest and use body parts, donors should follow these steps to insure the gift can be timely carried out.  Many states also allow a donor to state the existence of an anatomical gift document on the driver's license space set aside for organ donations. 

Witnesses 

The Organ Donation Statement is designed to be signed by two witnesses, in addition to the donor's signature.  Witnesses are still required in a large number of states to make such gifts binding.  Even if not required, witnesses help to verify the authenticity of the signed form.  This could be important, if the form is challenged by a relative, or by a doctor or institution that is not named to receive a gift ( a "donee").  The donor should attempt to locate witnesses who can speak with personal knowledge about the donor's state of mind when making the document.  Each witness should read the document before signing and acknowledge that it is understood. 

Modifying Or Revoking A Gift 

Once executed, the Organ Donation Statement may be modified or revoked.  If the gift is modified, make sure that all old copies are collected and destroyed.  The language of the new statement should also make clear that the modified statement "replaces and supersedes any prior document covering the same subject matter." 

Revocations should be addressed in much the same way.  The original gift documents should be collected and destroyed.  In addition, the donor should state in writing that the anatomical gift (identified by date) is revoked.  That letter should be mailed to a donee or anyone that was given a copy of  the original gift document.  A copy should also be sent to  anyone else that is likely to be interested, such as relatives, doctors and hospitals. 

Declining To Make A Gift 
To promote organ donation, the law concerning anatomical gifts is relatively simple.  Each state does, however, allow you to make a binding statement of refusal to make a gift.  All you need to do is make a simple declaration that you do not want any of your organs or parts gifted.  That statement can be oral, to at least two witnesses, or better, in writing.  To best ensure your wishes are observed, the written refusal statement should be distributed to the same group of people to whom you would have communicated your intentions to make a gift. 

What If There Is No Clear Statement? 

If you die without a written or verbal anatomical gift or refusal to make a gift, your organs and parts can still be donated to science.  The law permits your relatives to give consent on your behalf after you die.  The law sets out classes of relatives that can give consent.  The "highest" ranking available class has the right to make the decision.  The ranking of family members is (subject to some variations in a given state): 

· Spouse 
· Adult son or daughter 
· Parent 
· Adult brother or sister 
· Guardian 
· Anyone with authority to dispose of the body 

For example, if there is no clear evidence of your intentions available at your death and you are not married, one of your adult children can make this decision.  Some states have modified this list. In a few states, the last category is not included.  Also, some states include a grandparent, usually after the brother/sister group and before a guardian.