Analysis of State Actions Regarding Donor Registries. Informed Consent


For both legal and ethical reasons, it is necessary that the public be properly informed regarding organ and tissue donation before individuals decide to become organ and/or tissue donors. Assurances that an informed consent process is in place strengthen the ability to use donor documentation as an advance directive. No state has yet established clear legal or ethical standards for the minimum amount of information necessary to consider the decision to donate an informed one. Instead, state actions have focused on the method by which the public is informed about the donation process, standards surrounding signing donor documentation (i.e., in the presence of a notary public), and assurances of supplying adequate information to those making a decision.

  • California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia provide pamphlets, display posters, and/or show looped videos about organ donation at the time of driver’s license renewal, when individuals are asked to be donors.
  • The District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island have laws requiring that donor information be included with the driver’s license renewal notice sent to license holders.
  • Rhode Island requires notary public approval on organ donation cards.
  • Most states require an individual to be at least 18 years of age for an advance directive to be legitimate without a parent’s consent. However, New Mexico and Washington State have laws that allow an individual 16 years of age or older to make an anatomical gift without parent’s consent.
  • Georgia reduces driver’s license fees for those who become donors.
  • The Illinois and Maryland divisions of motor vehicles send out "thank-you" letters to individuals who agree to be donors, in part to confirm their donation decision.
  • Louisiana provides both extensive training and a standardized consent form detailing the specifics of donation to division of motor vehicles personnel in the position to speak with the public about donation. Additionally, Louisiana verifies donor consent via a follow-up mailing reiterating information initially provided at the division of motor vehicles.