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Organ Transplantation and the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act: A Fifty-Year Perspective

Fifty years ago this summer, the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act was adopted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and approved by the American Bar Association. The UAGA has provided a sound and stable legal platform on which to base an effective nationwide organ donation system. The cardinal principles of altruism, autonomy, and public trust are still important. At a time when confidence and trust in our government and many private institutions has declined, maintaining trust and confi­dence in our health care system and its commitment to “first, do no harm” has never been more important. Any policies that override these core ethical principles could cause irrepa­rable damage to the public’s faith in our transplant system. While progress has been made to increase organ registration and the number of organs transplanted, much more must be done to realize the potential of life-saving therapy without jeopardizing ethical principles.

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