Consent for organ donation strengthened through registries

Wisconsin State Journal | David Wahlberg

Editors note: The term 'consent' is used incorrectly in this article. Organ donor registries fall under gift laws and there for no consent is needed; the correct term in this case is authorization. Individuals who sign-up on state organ donation registries, have given their permission for donation to take place at the time of their death no matter how death is declared. It is the obligation of families, hospitals and organ procurement organizations to fulfill the gift.

Henry Mackaman

When Henry Mackaman got his driver’s license, he registered to be an organ donor.

Two years ago, as a 21-year-old UW-Madison student, Mackaman died from meningitis.

His family supported the recovery of his organs, knowing he had authorized donation, said Meredith Leigh, Mackaman’s mother. Seven organs went to five recipients, including Walter Goodman, a UW-Madison professor, who received his heart.

“It gives me comfort that my son has saved five lives — and that, in a way, he lives on,” Leigh said.

Online donor registries, like one that started in Wisconsin in 2010, have increased attention to organ donation around the country.

Before Wisconsin launched its registry, residents who got stickers on their licenses or otherwise signed up to be donors expressed intent. Doctors still had to get consent from family.

Now, people who sign up online or when getting or renewing their driver’s license give first-person consent. No further permission is required, though parents can override the decision if the potential donor is under age 18. Continue reading