On January 1, 2006, Illinois residents were able to join a Organ/Tissue Donor Registry, which made a person's wish to be a donor legally binding. Previously, family consent was needed before donation could occur. The registry ensures that a person's wish to be a donor is respected upon death.
It is estimated that as many as 100 more lives a year are saved with this law. First-person consent also saves families the difficult task of making a decision about donation when faced with the loss of a loved one. The legislation to change Illinois' Organ/Tissue Donor Registry was initiated by Secretary of State Jesse White.
What is first-person consent?
First-person consent makes your decision to be an organ/tissue donor legally binding. Additional witnesses or family consent is not required in order to be a donor. If a person has not joined the first-person consent registry (effective January 2006) or is under age 18, family consent is still required.
I've never heard of first-person consent. Is this new?
First-person consent legislation was signed into law in June 2005 and became effective Jan. 1, 2006. More than 40 other states have passed similar legislation, sometimes called "donor rights" legislation.
Why was the law changed?
The first-person consent law provides an opportunity to save more lives. Organ donation is expected to increase by at least 10 percent and provide about 100 additional organs for transplant each year in Illinois.
The law also ensures that your wish to be an organ/tissue donor is honored. Prior to the first-person consent registry, many Illinoisans who signed the back of their driver's license as a donor were unaware that family consent was still required in order for donation to occur.
When I agree to be a donor by joining the registry, will my family still be involved?
Yes. Upon death, transplant coordinators will explain the donation process to family members, answer questions and provide support. They will ask for a medical/social history to help determine which organs and tissue may be transplanted. They also will ask family members whether they wish to receive follow-up information after the donation, such as general information about recipients. They will continue to provide ongoing programs and services for families of donors for as long as they wish.