State Determination of Death Laws

Each state has a law prescribing how death is determined within that state. To provide AOPO members and the organ donation and transplantation community with ready access to those laws, AOPO has posted links (see below) to the pertinent section(s) in each state’s official code, or where a link to the code section is not available, to information relating to the state statute.

Background: In 1980, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL)* issued the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA). Acknowledging that advances in medical technology had changed the ways in which death could be determined, UDDA specified that death be determined by both traditional respiratory and circulatory criteria and by the newer neurological (brain death) criteria. Brain death is now incorporated in the law of every state and most of these laws are based on UDDA. UDDA provides that:

An individual who has sustained either (1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, is dead. A determination of death must be made in accordance with accepted medical standards.

* NCCUSL is a state sponsored non-profit association that promotes uniformity in state law. It drafts and proposes specific statutes in areas of the law where uniformity between the states is deemed desirable. NCCUSL’s draft laws are issued as recommendations to the states and each state is free to ignore, enact or modify that recommendation as it sees fit.


These links are current as of May 2011. AOPO will endeavor to maintain the currency of the links; however, laws and links do change and AOPO cannot guarantee their accuracy at all times. If you are taking any action that may have legal consequences, you should confirm independently that you are relying on the pertinent law of the proper jurisdiction.

If you find that links are broken or incorrect, please notify AOPO.


Alabama Louisiana  Oklahoma
Alaska Maine  Oregon
Arizona Maryland  Pennsylvania
Arkansas  Massachusetts  Puerto Rico
California  Michigan  Rhode Island
Colorado  Minnesota  South Carolina
Connecticut  Mississippi  South Dakota
Delaware  Missouri  Tennessee
District of Columbia  Montana  Texas
Florida  Nebraska  Utah
Georgia   Nevada  Vermont
Hawaii  New Hampshire  Virgin Islands
Idaho  New Jersey  Virginia
Illinois  New Mexico  Washington
Indiana  New York  West Virginia
Iowa  North Carolina  Wisconsin
Kansas  North Dakota Wyoming
Kentucky  Ohio