It’s easy enough to avoid checking the organ donation box at the DMV, but that may not be enough to ensure that your organs aren’t donated. If you don’t check that box, someone else will be able to make a decision regarding the donation of your organs upon your death. Virginia law says who makes the decision:
- your health care agent (under your health care power of attorney, unless prohibited in the document)
- your guardian at the time of your death (if you have a guardian at the time)
- your spouse
- your adult children
- your parents
- your adult siblings
- your adult grandchildren
- your grandparents
- an adult who exhibited special care and concern for you
- any other person having the authority to dispose of your body.
One way to prevent your organs from being donated is to ensure that the people close to you (the people listed above) are aware of your wishes. If you trust them to follow your wishes and can tolerate the risk that they will not, this may be sufficient.
Another option is to make a Refusal to Make an Anatomical Gift (or your state’s equivalent), which prevents others from making gifts of your body parts when you die. In Virginia and many other states, there are very specific requirements for making a legally effective refusal of this kind. Virginia’s requirements can be found in Section 32.1-291.7 of the Virginia Code.