A little pink dot on their driver’s license will identify those who have taken the decision to donate their organs so that others might live, and though this can be a painful reality for the families who are bidding a painful farewell to a loved one, that pink dot is a binding contract. Personal injury lawyers advise people that even though organ donation is essential in saving lives, they should think very carefully before saying yes to organ donation.
The Sacramento community has been gripped this week by the story of Gloria Woods, 40, who is currently on life support at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. Woods received traumatic injuries in a recent car accident, and she’s also a registered organ donor.
Woods’ family is now desperately trying to stop her organs from being harvested, and they have gone to court, seeking an injunction to stop the process before it can start.
They Say She Changed Her Mind
The family is basing their objections on two fronts.
They say harvesting Gloria’s organs is against their beliefs.
They also say Gloria changed her mind after ticking the box to become an organ donor at the DMV office, but she never put that change of mind in writing.
Sacramento personal injury attorneys are aware of the pain that can be caused when a family that’s been left behind knows their loved one’s eyes, heart, kidneys, lungs and liver might be taken from the body. However, they also point out that when Woods ticked the box at the DMV office, she entered a legally binding contract that allows the state to take those organs in spite of the family’s strong reservations.
The Court’s Approach
Specifically, the court will invariably look at the intent of the person involved in the accident, or in other words, the organ donor. If they determine that the person in question made a decision to donate their organs, then anything their family feels about it will be largely irrelevant. The same applies to the donor’s loved ones, partner, church, temple or the extended family’s religious beliefs.
This is why potential donors should discuss their decisions with their families and loved ones before entering into the binding contract that ticking the box at the DMV effectively cements into place. The court will only very occasionally make an exception to this approach, but it seems unlikely in the Woods family case.
As well as becoming a donor through the DMV sticker, people may also opt to become donors through provisions in their will or trust. Unless they are incompetent when making the decision, however, or were under the age of 18 when they ticked the box, the court will in all likelihood allow the harvesting of organs to go ahead. Clearly, neither of these exemptions (incompetence or age) applies to Gloria Woods.
Well, What if I DID Change my Mind After Agreeing to Become a Donor?
A contract is a contract, but there are procedures that can be taken to reverse a decision to become an organ donor. If you originally ticked the box at the DMV to become a donor, then to reverse that process, you need to:
Return to the DMV office.
Tell them you no longer wish to be a donor.
Send them a certified letter clearly outlining your wishes not to be a donor. You do not have to explain your reasons.
Get a new license, without the pink dot that states you’re an organ donor.
What is happening in the Gloria Woods case is tragic, particularly in light of the life that has already been destroyed. If the Woods family are not successful in preventing the harvesting of Gloria’s organs, hopefully they will be able to take some comfort from the thoughts that her organs have saved one or more lives that might otherwise have been taken from other distraught families.
While people are killed on California roads virtually every day of the week, the families left behind shouldn’t have to bear the horrible financial as well as psychological damage done when the accident that took their loved one was caused by a negligent driver. If this has happened to you, or if you have any questions about the issues raised here, contact an experienced and compassionate Sacramento car accident attorney for a free consultation.