Anatomical Gifts

Lions Eye Bank of Texas v. Perry, 56 S.W.3d 872 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2001, pet. denied).


Decedent died without signing an anatomical gift card. In addition, Decedent’s Father signed a form at the time of Decedent’s death refusing all organ and tissue donation, including eyes and corneal tissue, in accordance with Decedent’s previously expressed desires. Nonetheless, Eye Bank took Decedent’s corneal tissue. Eye Bank claimed that it had the medical examiner’s permission and that Decedent’s medical records lacked any indication that Decedent or his family had not consented to the removal. Accordingly, Eye Bank asserted it acted properly under Health & Safety Code § 693.012. Decedent’s family sued Eye Bank. The jury found that Eye Bank had negligently taken eye tissue and awarded actual and punitive damages for mental anguish. Eye Bank appealed.

The appellate court reversed. The court provided a detailed discussion of the applicable negligence law and concluded there is no legal basis under the facts to sustain an award of actual (and hence punitive) damages for mental anguish.

Moral: A person who is opposed to organ donation must be certain to carry at all times an “anti-donor” card to reduce the possibility of anatomical gifts occurring.