Have you signed a donor consent form?
Do you know that federal law prohibits you from specifying who can’t receive your organs?
Imagine a convicted rapist receiving a life-saving transplant thanks to your loved one’s organs.
This year, my California driver’s license came up for renewal. I had the option of renewing online–no standing in line, getting a picture taken, or having to take a test. (I suffer from test anxiety.)
Two areas stood out in the process–
- the Medical Information Acknowledgment and Donor Consent Form. (Please click on Should your loved one continue driving? for information.)
- how you, a potential organ donor, may be turned off by the federal guidelines if you take time to read the small print.
Organ Donor Consent
The last time I renewed my driver’s license, I went to the DMV. I checked “yes” on the section of the form where I was given a choice (yes or no) to donate my organs in event of my death. (I take care of myself; so, why should my relatively healthy body go to waste if it can help someone?)
The donation now makes it more difficult to customize your desires because federal guidelines prevent you from stating your wishes as to who should not receive your organs.
Once you agree to the generic form, if you want to customize your preferences, you’ll need to follow-up later (a lot of trouble, actually). Here is California’s donor consent statement:
YES! I want to be added to the Donate Life California organ and tissue donor registry, and thereby agree to give life upon my death.
You have given your consent to sign up as an organ and tissue donor with Donate Life California, a nonprofit organization established and designated as the California Organ and Tissue Donor Registrar pursuant to Section 7152.7 of the Health and Safety Code. When you receive your DL/ID card, a Pink Donor Dot will be printed on the front.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple once you read the information at the Donate Life California website.
For example, I don’t feel comfortable donating my organs to prisoners. The site clearly addresses this issue with a caveat that federal law prohibits us from restricting our donation to specific classes of individuals.
Let’s get serious here. I am making the choice to donate MY organs and the federal government is meddling in my business? I’ve spent a lifetime taking care of my body (with those exceptions when french fries beckon). I’d like to see the organs and tissues of my body benefit someone who has a chance to make a contribution to our world; not someone who is incarcerated. Shouldn’t this be my choice?
I no longer feel comfortable checking the box. Who loses when our government intervenes like this?
The medical acknowledgment and donor consent forms for your driver’s license renewal (in the state of California) are just two of the many forms you will sign during a given month or year. Take time to read closely (or ask a trusted friend or family member to read) and make sure you understand before you sign.
We welcome your comments regarding this story.
Brenda Avadian, MA