Families are usually relieved to find out that their loved one has already declared their wishes with regards to donation, and that the decision has already been made. Families often feel an ethical duty to honor the expressed wishes of their loved one—since giving the gift of life to others, whatever their values or motive, may have been very important to the donor.
In some cases, however, families may question their loved one’s designation and at that point, state laws must be followed so that neither LifeCenter Northwest nor your hospital can be held legally responsible for not honoring the patient’s designated wishes.
Below are some of the relevant regulations, but contact our Hospital Development team if you want more information on the legal issues surrounding donation. In general, we have found that in many cases when families question their loved one’s wishes, they just needed better timing or more information. For example:
- Donation was raised too early with the family. Giving the family time will usually help them understand.
- Someone has set an expectation with the family that authorizing donation is a decision they need to make. Avoid language that indicates they have a decision to make.
- Families may have misconceptions about donation. Be thorough and respectful in addressing the family’s concerns.
- Family is surprised that their loved one didn’t tell them. Help the family understand that it is not unusual for individuals to not discuss death with their family.
Donor designation is a documented, legally binding commitment by an individual to make an anatomical gift—and just like a will or testament, it can only be revoked by that individual. Below you can find links to the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) for all the states in our region:
Click here to watch Alexandra Glazier, JD, MPH Vice President and General Counsel, New England Organ Bank, discuss Why Gift Law Matters: The Law and Ethics of Donor Designation at the UNOS Region 6 Forum in Seattle, WA
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