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Who Makes Donation Decisions?

The decision to donate after a person has passed away depends on several factors – each situation is truly unique. Here are some general guides to understanding donation authorization.

Who Makes the Decision to Donate Organs, Eyes and Tissues?

You do.

For people 18 years of age or older, registering (online, on your license, state ID or in an advanced directive) to be a donor during your lifetime is making a legal decision that will be honored after your passing. This is why it is important for people who support donation to register; registering leaves instructions for your loved ones and removes the burden of family members having to make the decision for you after you’re gone.

Even if you are registered as a donor, it is important to share your decision with your family and loved ones so they are prepared to support your decision at the time of your passing. For people who do not want to be donors after they have passed away, it is important to include it in an advanced directive and share the decision with your family. In either situation, it is important to tell your loved ones your wishes for after you have passed.

When Do Families Make Donation Decisions?

When a person who is not registered as a donor but is a candidate for donation passes away, their “legal next-of-kin” are asked to make the decision on their behalf. Keeping in mind that the definition of “legal next-of-kin” can differ from one state to another, it is typically a healthcare agent, a spouse or close family member who will make the decision.

Who Makes the Donation Decisions for Minors?

In situations where a minor passes away and has the potential to save lives through donation, the decision is made by parents or guardians. Even when a minor has registered as a donor on a state ID, their parents or guardians would decide whether or not to honor that decision.

Supporting Families

For families in the LifeSource service area, support is always provided during this difficult time and for as long as families need. Our Family Support Coordinators walks the family through the process and answers any questions they have.

In the months and years following donation, families are provided with grief resources, invited to memorial events and given opportunities to connect with other donor families. We consider it a privilege to support donor families as they navigate the journey of grief and healing.

Uniform Anatomical Gift Act

In 1968, the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) was created and provided the framework for organ, eye and tissue donation. At this time, all states adopted the UAGA framework, making the law the same in each state. Over time, states made revisions to their UAGA, creating slight differences in the law from state to state. In 2006, the UAGA was revised to bring state law up to date with current practice and create nation-wide consistency. This UAGA has been adopted by all states and territories. There are a few components which are varied by state including the hierarchy for next-of-kin. The standard is Agent, Spouse, Adult Child, Parent. As an example, MN added Adult Niece or Nephew.

Residents of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota can find the state UAGA using the links provided. Residents of other states can find UAGA resources here.