2009 Changes to Ohio Advance Directive and Donor Registry Enrollment Forms

In September 2009, changes were made to the Ohio Living Will Declaration and the Ohio Health Care Power of Attorney forms that are endorsed by the Ohio State Bar Association, the Ohio State Medical Association, the Ohio Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the Ohio Hospital Association and the Ohio Osteopathic Association.  These changes had to do with end-of-life decisions about organ, eye and tissue donation, and are intended to help lessen confusion regarding the individual’s intent for the donation recovery organizations. 

Note:  The 2009 changes to the advance directive documents are NOT required by statute, and older advance directive forms are still valid.

Background regarding 2009 changes:  The Donor Registry Enrollment Form was added to the living will form in the 2004 edition of that document in an attempt to raise awareness and encourage organ donation.  Since that time, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) donor registry has provided an effective list of donors, most of whom register when they renew their driver’s licenses.   To ensure donation wishes are honored, a donor’s name must be on the BMV registry.

The 2004 edition of the Ohio Living Will Declaration form included language regarding an anatomical gift designation within the living will itself.  This has proved problematic in practice because, in some cases, wishes regarding organ donation set forth in the living will document did not match the BMV donor registry record.   If clients change their minds, they should make sure the registry form reflects their wishes.

(Attorneys should be aware that, if a client has said “yes” to organ donation at the time he/she renewed a driver’s license or state ID, it is not necessary for the client to also complete a Donor Registry Enrollment Form unless the client wishes to restrict the donation.) 

Changes to the Ohio Living Will:  References to organ donation and the Donor Enrollment Registry Form were removed from within the Ohio Living Will Declaration itself, and the registry form was moved to the back of the living will form following the living will signature lines.  Although a living will designation reflecting a wish to be a donor is valid, the principal should not rely on it.  Rather, the principal should either say “yes” to organ donation when applying for or renewing a driver’s license/state ID or register on-line through the Ohio BMV Web site (www.ohiobmv.com), OR send to the Ohio BMV the registry form provided at the end of the living will form.  These same vehicles can be utilized to remove a name from the Ohio Donor Registry.

Changes to the Donor Registry Enrollment Form:  Although statute once dictated registry form language, recent legislation has allowed for form redesign.  While the form has not yet been officially redesigned, several changes have been made to the form that follows the Living Will Declaration form.  Changes were provided by Donate Life Ohio, the statewide organization representing Ohio’s organ, eye and tissue  recovery agencies  These changes include:

1) update of Ohio BMV address;

2) deletion of reference to witnesses;

3) reference to “living” donor;

4) optional provision of Social Security Number (driver’s license number or ID card number is sufficient);

5) addition of a “nerves” category to list of specified organs and tissues;

6) deletion of “advancement of medical/dental science” from purpose category;

7) designation in signature line is now “Signature of Donor Registrant” rather than “Signature of Donor”;

8) deletion of “Date of Birth of Donor”;

9) deletion of witness lines.

Changes to the Ohio Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA):  In the revised forms provided through the OSBA Web site, the reference to an anatomical gift donation through the living will document has been eliminated.  Currently, a reference to Donor Registry Enrollment Form completion still exists within the HCPOA.  While it is not incorrect to include such a reference, this reference likely will be deleted in future revisions, as it has been deleted from the living will document, in order to further reduce confusion for donation recovery organizations.

Note:  If you have recently received or ordered a printed, hard-copy set of the 2009 advance directive forms from the OSBA, please be aware the following two lines on the Health Care Power of Attorney form should be redacted:

Anatomical Gift(s).  I have made my wishes known regarding organ and tissue donation in my Living Will.     (Yes/No)

These lines have already been deleted from the forms available through the OSBA Web site at www.ohiobar.org (go to member resources/legal/advance directives), including the Web site “fillable” forms.  The lines will be removed from the printed forms when the current supply of forms is exhausted.



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