An Ohio man declared brain dead and on life support after a hit-and-run accident last week in Columbus had his organs harvested under court order Wednesday despite objections from his family who contended he did not fully understand the decision he made when he registered to be a donor.
The Columbus Dispatch reported on Thursday that Lifeline of Ohio, the area's organ procurement agency, sought the court order Wednesday morning after the mother of 21-year-old Elijah Smith addressed a letter to the agency and Grant Medical Center stating she did not want her son to be an organ donor.
"We do not want our son to die like this," Pamela Smith wrote. Her son's September driver's license application showed him as a registered organ donor.
Under Ohio law, no one other than the donor can amend or revoke an organ donation consent.
The victim's father, Rodney Smith, said he and his wife also wanted additional time to see if their son would recover.
Lifeline filed a complaint in Franklin County's probate court after the organization received Pamela Smith's letter.
"Under the circumstances, no one — not even his family — can undo what he did," the attorney for the agency wrote.
Judge Guy Reece issued the order Wednesday afternoon.
A Lifeline spokeswoman, Marilyn Pongonis, told the newspaper this is the first time the agency has sought such a court order.
"Our hope is the family will see their son saved lives, that he was a hero," she said.
Rodney Smith said the family did not know his son was a registered donor. He said he hopes more families will become aware of donation procedures.
"Of course it sounds like a good idea, because you're helping someone else out," he said. "But in the end, someone has to sacrifice their body in order for someone else to gain."
Almost 119,000 are on the national organ transplant waiting list, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Elijah Smith was struck around 4 a.m. July 3 in Columbus' north end as he was biking home from work. Doctors declared him brain dead the following day. Police have found the vehicle that struck him, but no one has been charged in the incident.