Pennsylvania Anatomical Gift Law

Uniform Anatomical Gift – General – Pennsylvania

§ 8611. Persons who may execute anatomical gift

Any individual of sound mind and 18 years of age or more may give all or any part of his body for any purpose specified in section 8612 (relating to persons who may become donees; purposes for which anatomical gifts may be made), the gift to take effect upon death. Any agent acting under a power of attorney which authorizes the agent to make anatomical gifts may effectuate a gift for any purpose specified in section 8612. Any individual who is a minor and 16 years of age or older may effectuate a gift for any purpose specified in section 8612, provided parental or guardian consent is deemed given. Parental or guardian consent shall be noted on the minor’s donor card, application for the donor’s learner’s permit or driver’s license or other document of gift. A gift of the whole body shall be invalid unless made in writing at least 15 days prior to the date of death or consent is obtained from the legal next of kin. Where there are adult children of the deceased who are not children of the surviving spouse, their consent shall also be required for a gift of the whole body for anatomical study.

Others entitled to donate anatomy of decedent.–Any of the following persons, in order of priority stated, when persons in prior classes are not available at the time of death, and in the absence of actual notice of contrary indications by the decedent or actual notice of opposition by a member of the same or a prior class, may give all or any part of the decedent’s body for any purpose specified in section 8612:

(1) The spouse.

(2) An adult son or daughter.

(3) Either parent.

(4) An adult brother or sister.

(5) A guardian of the person of the decedent at the time of his death.

(6) Any other person authorized or under obligation to dispose of the body.

Donee not to accept in certain cases.–If the donee has actual notice of contrary indications by the decedent or that a gift by a member of a class is opposed by a member of the same or a prior class, the donee shall not accept the gift. The persons authorized by subsection (b) may make the gift after or immediately before death.

Examinations.–A gift of all or part of a body authorizes any examination necessary to assure medical acceptability of the gift for the purposes intended.

Rights of donee paramount.–The rights of the donee created by the gift are paramount to the rights of others except as provided by section 8616(d) (relating to rights and duties at death).

§ 8612. Persons who may become donees; purposes for which anatomical gifts may be made

The following persons may become donees of gifts of bodies or parts thereof for any of the purposes stated:

(1) Any hospital, surgeon or physician for medical or dental education, research, advancement of medical or dental science, therapy or transplantation.

(2) Any accredited medical or dental school, college or university for education, research, advancement of medical or dental science or therapy.

(3) Any bank or storage facility for medical or dental education, research, advancement of medical or dental science, therapy or transplantation.

(4) Any specified individual for therapy or transplantation needed by him.

(5) The board.

§ 8613. Manner of executing anatomical gifts

Gifts by will.–A gift of all or part of the body under section 8611(a) (relating to persons who may execute anatomical gift) may be made by will. The gift becomes effective upon the death of the testator without waiting for probate. If the will is not probated or if it is declared invalid for testamentary purposes, the gift, to the extent that it has been acted upon in good faith, is nevertheless valid and effective.

Gifts by other documents.–A gift of all or part of the body under section 8611(a) may also be made by document other than a will. The gift becomes effective upon the death of the donor. The document, which may be a card designed to be carried on the person, must be signed by the donor in the presence of two witnesses who must sign the document in his presence. If the donor is mentally competent to signify his desire to sign the document but is physically unable to do so, the document may be signed for him by another at his direction and in his presence in the presence of two witnesses who must sign the document in his presence. Delivery of the document of gift during the donor’s lifetime is not necessary to make the gift valid.

Specified and unspecified donees.–The gift may be made to a specified donee or without specifying a donee. If the latter, the gift may be accepted by the attending physician as donee upon or following death. If the gift is made to a specified donee who is not available at the time and place of death, the attending physician upon or following death, in the absence of any expressed indication that the donor desired otherwise, may accept the gift as donee. The physician who becomes a donee under this subsection shall not participate in the procedures for removing or transplanting a part.

Designation of person to carry out procedures.–Notwithstanding section 8616(b) (relating to rights and duties at death), the donor may designate in his will, card or other document of gift the surgeon or physician to carry out the appropriate procedures. In the absence of a designation or if the designee is not available, the donee or other person authorized to accept the gift may employ or authorize any surgeon or physician for the purpose, or, in the case of a gift of eyes, he may employ or authorize a person who is a funeral director licensed by the State Board of Funeral Directors, an eye bank technician or medical student, if the person has successfully completed a course in eye enucleation approved by the State Board of Medical Education and Licensure, or an eye bank technician or medical student trained under a program in the sterile technique for eye enucleation approved by the State Board of Medical Education and Licensure to enucleate eyes for an eye bank for the gift after certification of death by a physician. A qualified funeral director, eye bank technician or medical student acting in accordance with the terms of this subsection shall not have any liability, civil or criminal, for the eye enucleation.

Consent not necessary.–If a donor card, donor driver’s license, living will, durable power of attorney or other document of gift evidencing a gift of organs or tissue has been executed, consent of any person designated in section 8611(b) at the time of the donor’s death or immediately thereafter is not necessary to render the gift valid and effective.

Documentation of gifts by others.–Any gift by a person designated in section 8611(b) shall be made by a document signed by him or made by his telegraphic, recorded telephonic or other recorded message.

§ 8614. Delivery of document of gift

If the gift is made by the donor to a specified donee, the will, card or other document or an executed copy thereof may be delivered to the donee to expedite the appropriate procedures immediately after death. Delivery is not necessary to the validity of the gift. The will, card or other document or an executed copy thereof may be deposited in any hospital, bank or storage facility that accepts it for safekeeping or for facilitation of procedures after death. On request of any interested party upon or after the donor’s death, the person in possession shall produce the document for examination.

§ 8615. Amendment or revocation of gift

Document delivered to donee.–If the will, card or other document or executed copy thereof has been delivered to a specified donee, the donor may amend or revoke the gift by any of the following:

(1) The execution and delivery to the donee of a signed statement.

(2) An oral statement made in the presence of two persons and communicated to the donee.

(3) A statement during a terminal illness or injury addressed to an attending physician and communicated to the donee.

(4) A signed card or document found on his person or in his effects.

Document not delivered to donee.–Any document of gift which has not been delivered to the donee may be revoked by the donor in the manner set out in subsection (a) or by destruction, cancellation or mutilation of the document and all executed copies thereof.

Gifts by will.–Any gift made by a will may also be amended or revoked in the manner provided for amendment or revocation of wills or as provided in subsection (a).

§ 8616. Rights and duties at death

Donees and relatives.–The donee may accept or reject the gift. If the donee accepts a gift of the entire body, he shall, subject to the terms of the gift, authorize embalming and the use of the body in funeral services if the surviving spouse or next of kin as determined in section 8611(b) (relating to persons who may execute anatomical gift) requests embalming and use of the body for funeral services. If the gift is of a part of the body, the donee, upon the death of the donor and prior to embalming, shall cause the part to be removed without unnecessary mutilation. After removal of the part, custody of the remainder of the body vests in the surviving spouse, next of kin or other persons under obligation to dispose of the body.

Physicians.–The time of death shall be determined by a physician who tends the donor at his death or, if none, the physician who certifies the death. The physician or person who certifies death or any of his professional partners or associates shall not participate in the procedures for removing or transplanting a part.

Certain liability limited.–A person who acts in good faith in accordance with the terms of this subchapter or with the anatomical gift laws of another state or a foreign country is not liable for damages in any civil action or subject to prosecution in any criminal proceeding for his act.

Law on autopsies applicable.–The provisions of this subchapter are subject to the laws of this Commonwealth prescribing powers and duties with respect to autopsies.

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