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Donating organs saves lives. Hundreds of new organ transplant candidates are added to a waiting list each month, and the number of people waiting for a transplant is increasing. This is for people who wish to donate all or part of their body by making an anatomical gift.
In Arizona, every person is eligible to be an organ donor; there are no age or physical limitations. Even if a donor has a preexisting medical condition, organ transplant teams may find a suitable use for the person’s organs.
For a person interested in donating organs, it is vitally important that his wish to be an organ donor be known at the time of death. A person can make known his desire to be an organ donor in a number of ways, including by executing a health care power of attorney, completing a donor card, registering with the Donor Network of Arizona, and informing his family members.
Health Care Power of Attorney
A health care power of attorney is a written designation of an agent to make health care decisions. It is a durable power of attorney, which means that it survives the person’s subsequent disability or incompetency.
By executing a health care power of attorney, a person formally states his specific desires about organ donation. In this document, a person can:
- choose to donate any needed organs or parts or only specified parts or organs
- choose to donate organs for any legally authorized purpose (transplantation, therapy, medical and dental evaluation and research, and/or advancement of medical and dental science) or for transplant or therapeutic purposes only (the organs will go to a person in need for the purpose of healing)
- designate a specific individual or institution to receive his tissues or organs or authorize his representative to make that decision
In lieu of the foregoing, a person can declare, in a health care power of attorney, that he does not want to make an organ or tissue donation and he does not want a donation authorized on his behalf by his representative or his family.
A uniform donor card may also evidence a person’s desire to become an organ donor. On this card, the donor states his wish to donate his organs and tissues (either any needed organs and tissues or specified organs and tissues). The donor must sign and date the card in the presence of two witnesses, and he should then keep the card in his wallet or another readily accessible place.
Donor Network of Arizona
The Donor Network of Arizona is a registry for persons who desire to become organ donors. (For more information, you may visit their website: www.dnaz.org.) Registration on the donor network is the best way for a person to make known his desire to become an organ donor.
The Donor Network of Arizona accesses a national computer system to determine where donated organs will go. The network coordinator receives a list of patients who are waiting for, and need, the organs donated. A patient’s priority for organs depends on a number of factors, including medical urgency, the time on the waiting list, tissue match, geography, and—for hearts, livers, and lungs—blood type and body size.
It should be noted that a person not registered with the Donor Network of Arizona can still become an organ donor if he has made known his desire to his family or health care agent. A family notification form can serve to notify family members of a person’s intention to be an organ donor. The family or health care agent of a person who dies is almost always asked if the decedent wished to be an organ donor.
Donated Organs and Tissues
If a person elects to donate other than “any organ or body part,” he will specify what organs or tissues he chooses to donate. A person may choose to donate any or all of the following organs: heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver, and intestines. In addition, he may choose to donate any or all of the following tissues: skin, cornea, bone marrow, heart valves, and connective tissue.
Organ donation does not disfigure the body and does not preclude an open casket at the funeral. The donor’s family is not liable for costs of organ donation; all costs of organ donation are paid by the recipient of an organ (usually through insurance).
The above article is an excerpt from Estate Planning in Arizona: What You Need to Know, 2nd Edition (Wheatmark, 2019), by Donald A. Loose, republished with the author’s permission.
Disclaimer: Laws change constantly. Specific legal advice should be obtained regarding any legal matter. The information contained on this website does not constitute legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created.
Donald A. Loose is an Arizona attorney, and the author of Arizona Laws 101: A Handbook for Non-Lawyers, and Estate Planning in Arizona: What You Need to Know. Mr. Loose is a regular guest on radio shows featuring local newsmaker interviews. He may be contacted at email@example.com.
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