April 12, 2023

Donation Essentials Blog

Can My Family Override My Decision to be a Donor?

April 12, 2023

Can My Family Override My Decision to be a Donor?

Many people wonder if their family can override their decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor after death. In short, the answer is no. Let’s talk a little more about this decision, the registry, and the donation process.

What does Signing Up as a Donor Mean?

Signing up as an organ, eye and tissue donor means you have made the decision to donate your organs, eyes and tissues at the time of your death. That decision can make a world of difference in the lives of people waiting for a lifesaving transplant. One donor can save up to 8 lives through organ donation and save and heal more than 75 lives through tissue donation.

As an adult (18 years or older), your decision to be a donor is a first-person authorized advanced directive. Just like a will, this decision is legally binding and cannot be overridden by your family; which is why it’s so important to discuss donation with your loved ones.

What exactly is the Donor Registry?

A donor registry legally documents an individual’s decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor. The Donate Life Colorado and Donate Life Wyoming Donor registries are centralized, electronic databases listing the names of every resident who has made the decision to sign up as an organ, eye and tissue donor the time of his or her death. The registry is confidential and each individual must opt-in or take concrete action to declare they want to be a donor, like saying yes when getting a driver license or state ID.

How are Families Involved in the Donation Process?


“Perri was a registered donor; we had discussed it and knew exactly what she wanted,” said Kelly Lang, Perri’s mother. “That made everything so much easier for our family at the end of her life.”

If a potential deceased donor is on the registry, personnel from the local organ procurement organization, Donor Alliance in Colorado and most of Wyoming, will inform the family and guide them through every step of the process. If the individual is not yet registered, the family will be asked to authorize the gift of organ, eye and tissue donation.

Why Can’t Family Override Donation?

This process relieves family of the burden of making yet another decision during a very difficult time, and ensures an individual’s decision is honored. Clearly, it is important to discuss your lifesaving decision with family. Share stories of local people impacted by donation and the facts of donation to help them understand your decision.

Making the decision in advance will help family feel confident and prepared that they are carrying out what you wanted when they are presented with information about the donation process.

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