When Is an Organ Donor Not an Organ Donor?

Roy R. Reeves, DO, PHD; William S. Agin, JD; Ethyl S. Rose, MD; Marti D. Reynolds, MDIV; Anthony R. Beazley, MDIV, BCC; Sharon P. Douglas, MD


South Med J. 2004;97(12) 

Abstract and Introduction


The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) grants any competent adult the legal right to designate whether he or she wishes to donate his or her organs for transplantation after death. However, contextual issues may interfere with organ donation by individuals who want to be organ donors. This case report describes a 58-year-old male who had properly documented his desire to donate his organs after his death, but was not allowed to be an organ donor because of his relatives' opinions. Ethical and legal aspects of the case are discussed.


The shortage of organs for transplantation remains an unsolved problem, and many patients wait extended periods of time for an organ from a suitable donor; some die while waiting. Although the legal basis for the process of postmortem organ donation is well established, contextual issues (ie, the circumstances that are the context of a case[1]) may interfere with or even prevent organ donation. This report discusses the case of a patient who had clearly documented his wish to be an organ donor after his death, and had satisfied the legal requirements for organ donation, but was not permitted to be a donor.