Updated: Feb 12, 2019
There is a great medical need for human organ transplants such as the heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver, and intestines. This need has prompted many to make anatomical gifts following their death.
In addition to organs, there is a need for tissues such as the cornea, skin, bone marrow, heart valves, and connective tissue to treat otherwise catastrophic illness.
A number of people have chosen to donate their entire body after death for use in the education of future doctors and dentists. If appropriately planned, the donation of one’s body can reduce or eliminate funeral and interment costs.
If you are of sound mind and at least 18 years of age, you can choose to give all or part of your body for a transplant or for use in medical education or science. The law also allows a family member or guardian to authorize a gift of all or part of your body, unless you have indicated that such a gift is not to be made. The law does not permit family members to prevent donation if you have chosen to do so.
There are several ways to make an anatomical gift. You can make the gift by stating it in your Will, by completing a donor card, by indicating it on your driver’s license, or by another written document. Each of these documents, besides your driver’s license, requires your signature and the signature of two witnesses. If you are unable to sign, you can direct someone else to sign for you in the presence of the witnesses.
Regardless of how you indicate your gift, it is essential that you discuss your wishes with your family and other caregivers. You can change or revoke a gift at any time by formally changing your Will or destroying the donor card or document and preparing a new one. Any change to your wishes should be discussed with your family members and caregivers.
Source: Indiana Laws of Aging by Indiana State Bar Association