Organ Donation and the Will

If you have a license or state-issued ID, you are probably familiar with the option to choose if you'd like to be listed as an organ donor. However, when creating your estate documents, you will also fill out medical powers of attorney, advance medical or mental health directives, and end-of-life wishes. As part of those documents, you may include a statement about organ donation as well as donation of your remains to science.

Even though you have likely already chosen an option when you registered for or renewed your ID, you should still explicitly state in your estate documents what your desires are regarding this important decision. It should not be taken for granted that your family will know your wishes, or that any religious adherence makes the option an obvious one. It's always best to lay out in print what your desires are so that there is no doubt for any medical professional, personal representative, or even family and friends about what your choices are.

You should also discuss the topic with your family and medical agent to make sure everyone is on the same page. As the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration states on their website:

"A donor designation on a Maryland driver's license or identification card is sufficient legal authority for the removal of body organs and tissues upon the death of the donor. To ensure your wishes are carried out it's recommended you discuss your commitment to be a donor with your family. During a family discussion one can learn how each person feels about becoming a donor and assure that a relative's wishes are carried out, because the donation is usually discussed with one's next of kin."

Once you have settled on which option works best for you, the language can be added to your will and advance medical directives.

In Maryland, there is the Organ Donor Program, which everyone who receives a Maryland driver's license or state-issued ID has the option to check on their form. There are also multiple nonprofits in Maryland, including the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland, which administers the donation program in our state, and Donate Life Maryland, which helps to register donors.

If you want to learn more about donating your body or organs to science in Maryland, the Maryland Anatomy Board manages a donation program, and Donate Life Maryland also offers information to interested parties.