If you have a relatively new Texas driver’s license, you may have noticed on the back a blank to be filled in with the anatomical organ of your choice. In the event of death, that blank, when filled in, authorizes the removal of any and all organs designated by you to be used in human transplant operations.

That little blank challenges you with questions of humanitarian responsibility. It also fosters a rather morbid implication. “My fear,” as one licensee puts it, “is that I’ll be injured in a terrible car wreck and be rushed to the same hospital wheresome dignitary is desperately waiting for a kidney transplant. They’ll look on my driver’s license, see my kidneys donated in the blank, and that’s it for me.”

When this theory was posed to several area doctors, they were understandably horrified. Such fears were officially put to rest by Robert Heath, executive officer of the Dallas County Medical Society. “I’m not aware that any doctor in Dallas has removed an organ on the authority of a driver’s license. Though technically, under the law, a doctor is protected if he acts on the wishes of the card. Ordinarily, permission is always obtained from the next of kin before an organ is removed.”

Parkland Hospital officials say that no transplant has ever been undertaken without permission of the next of kin. And if the next of kin withholds permission or is not located after the victim’s death within the 30 minutes or so necessary for a successful transplant, no surgery will be performed.

Why then is that little blank there, and why bother to fill it out? “As far as I’m concerned,” says Department of Public Safety Chief T. G. Ferguson, “it just clutters up the back of the card.”


You have to wonder sometimes about the state of modern journalism. Has the Woodward/Bernstein Effect really struck such fear into the hearts of men that the public can’t give the press a straight answer anymore?

Following the recent SMU-Rice basketball game in Moody Coliseum, which Rice lost 80-65, Dallas Morning News sports reporter Temple Pouncey approached Rice coach Mike Schuler for a post-game interview. The Rice team had shown a reluctance to try to move the ball inside offensively, and Pouncey asked Schuler why. A logical question. Schuler’s reply: “Because it was not in our best interests for certain reasons. And of those reasons I have no comment.”


Keep me up to date on the latest happenings and all that D Magazine has to offer.