How Donation Works

Donor Designation & The Law

When a person has indicated his or her decision to become a donor—most often done by indicating their wishes on their driver’s license—they have made a legally binding commitment to make an anatomical gift. During such an emotional time, most families are relieved to know that the decision to donate has already been made by their loved one. However, there are times when a family may question that decision. In those instances, we’ll work closely with families to help them understand and follow the state laws that govern a person’s decision to donate. Below are links to the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) for California

|   California   |


The Tissue Donation Process

  • Tissue donation includes (Cornea, Bone, Skin, Veins, Heart for Valves and Tissue for Research)
  • When a person dies in a hospital and they are not on a ventilator at the time of death, the hospital will notify a local tissue bank to assess the suitability for tissue donation.
  • In certain cases when the person does not die in a hospital setting, the call (or referral) may come from a Medical Examiner, Coroner, Nursing Home, Funeral Home, Hospice or Directly from a family member.
  • The California Donor Registry is checked to determine if the deceased was registered to be a donor. If so, the indication from the donor themselves acts as an authorization for donation to occur. If his or her name is not listed in the donor registry, the family is offered the opportunity to donate.
  • The family has the choice to move forward with the donation process or decline donation. Save A Life America supports either decision by the family.
  • If the family wishes to proceed, an authorization is done in person or recorded on the telephone. This authorization permits Save A Life America to access medical information to further evaluate suitability for transplantation.
  • The next step is to obtain some additional medical information from the next of kin. These detailed questions are similar to what is asked of blood donors. This information will also be used to assist in determining suitability of the gift for transplantation before they are transplanted into others.
  • Save A Life America will then conduct the recovery of the authorized tissue in an aseptic setting. In most instances this will be done in the funeral home to minimize the moving of your loved one to different locations.
  • Save A Life America will cover all costs associated with the tissue recovery.
  • The recovery of tissue will not delay funeral arrangements, including having an open casket viewing.