Graham Glass mentioned opt-in vs. opt-out organ donation and I went looking for the North Carolina Drivers License forms because I was pretty sure North Carolina was an opt-out state, that is you had to check a box to not participate. I never found the forms, but I did find this Press Release:

Governor Easley has signed a new law that will convert the existing heart symbol on the driver’s license to legal consent for organ and eye donation. Previously the symbol signified only the intent to donate.

I've lived in North Carolina for 15 years and every time my license has come up for renewal I've made sure I had the little heart on my license, thinking that was all I needed to do. It turns out that up until last September, I was wrong. Glad they finally got that straightened out.

It will be interesting to see if North Carolina enforces its new law making signing up to be an organ donor legally binding. None of the other states who have these laws enforce them. Families are routinely asked to approve the donation of organs from deceased relatives. These families refuse permission about 50% of the time. In the Untted States you can refuse to let a relative's organs be donated, and you can refuse to donate your own organs, but still remain eligible for an organ transplant. This is one of the reasons so many people die waiting for organ transplants. There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- give organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die. Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren't willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs. Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has 10,325 members, including 320 members in North Carolina.

Posted by Dave on 2008-01-13