Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA)
History of the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act
The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) was originally enacted in 1968, and was the first law governing organ and tissue donation in the United States. Prior to its passage, organ donation was handled on a state-by-state basis and systems varied significantly across the country.
This law was promptly adopted by all 50 states.
The purpose of the 1968 UAGA was to increase the number of available organs for transplant by making it easier for people to make anatomical gifts.
The Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (R-UAGA), intended to strengthen the donor’s decision to make an anatomical gift, passed in 1987. But, only 26 states passed it.
The Revised Anatomical Gift Act of 2006, was passed to simplify the process of being an organ donor. Because this is the current law, that is what I am going to list below. They are the critical things you need to know about this act.
- The UAGA strengthens the power of others to override an individuals decision to make or refuse to make an anatomical gift.
- If you don’t prepare a Refusal Document, your or your loved ones organs may still be taken by consent from those close to the individual.
- Health care agents under a Health Care Power of Attorney can make the decision.
- In “some” cases parents or guardians have the power.
- The law set up “classes” of people who can make the decision to donate after that person has died. Remember “Brain Death” is a legal definition of death not true death. (friends,grandparents,other relatives) One of my friend’s son was in a car accident in Michigan and at the hospital while the mother was saying no to taking him off life support, they kept asking his friends, “Did SB ever tell you he wanted to donate?”
- “Reasonably available” means that if the Organ requestor’s can not find either the parents or the health care agents with the power of attorney. (phone call?)
- The decision to donate can be made by a “class of people”, if the majority of this class supports the decision to donate. (friends,grandparents,other relatives, any adult who exhibited special care or concern)
- Minors if eligible under the law are embowered to be a donor. If the minor donor dies under the age of 18, it “seems appropriate that the minor’s parents should be able to revoke the gift.” However, the minor’s parents cannot revoke the anatomical gift if the minor donor later dies over the age of 18. In a state that provides that a license issued to a minor is good for five years and the minor applies for the license at age 17, the minor can make an anatomical gift on the driver’s license at age 17 and need not reaffirm the gift for another five years. Furthermore, once the minor reaches age 18, the minor’s parents cannot revoke the gift.
- Under Section 8 of the 2006 UAGA, which strengthens the language regarding the finality of a donor’s anatomical gift, it clearly states that “there is no reason to seek consent from the donor’s family because the family has no legal right to revoke the gift.”
- The UAGA exhorted the Organ Procurement agents to stop the practice the practice of seeking affirmation (ex. from parents, added by me) when the donor who has clearly made a gift.This results in unnecessary delays in procuring organs and the occasional reversal of the donor’s wishes.
- The 2006 UAGA provides that a person acting in accordance with the act or with the applicable anatomical gift law of another state, or that attempts to do so in good faith, is not liable for his or her actions in a civil action, criminal prosecution or administrative proceeding.
- The 2006 UAGA provides that a general direction in a power of attorney or health-care directive that the patient does not wish to have life prolonged by the administration of life-support systems should not be construed as a “refusal to donate.”
- The Revised UAGA (2006), section 21, creates a default rule requiring that measures necessary to ensure the medical suitability of an organ for transplantation may not be withheld or withdrawn. This directly interferes with the Patient Self Determination Act of 1991. (means giving medications to preserve the organs that will not help the cure the patient)
- The 2006 UAGA directs procurement organizations and coroners and medical examiners to cooperate in maximizing donation opportunities.
While there are many concerns about the Revised Anatomical Gift Ac it also strengthens the right of a person not to donate their own organs by signing a refusal, which also prevents others from overriding such decision not to donate his/her own organs (Section 7).
What to do since the Revised Anatomical Gift Act of 2006
The time is now to give instructions to everyone you know that you want your life protected and preserved. Tell them you do not want your death hastened or your life cut short. You must explicitly instruct them in writing by two witnesses that you DO NOT want to be an Organ Donor.
I have now written three posts on the laws of Organ Transplantation in the United States. I have written these so you know what to do if your loved one is injured, in a coma and in a trauma or ICU unit.
Get familiar with these and the Uniformed Anatomical Gift Act, so you know what will be said to you in light of the laws.
The doctors and Organ Procurement Agents will weave these into the conversation when they talk to you.