Health & Human Services

Remodeling Job: States Open Doors For Organ Donors

A push is on in state legislatures to ease the serious shortage of organ donors. With more than 94,000 Americans waiting for a liver, kidney, cornea or other organ, many states are looking at the uniform organ donation laws they adopted in 1968 and debating an update.
by | June 2007

A push is on in state legislatures to ease the serious shortage of organ donors. With more than 94,000 Americans waiting for a liver, kidney, cornea or other organ, many states are looking at the uniform organ donation laws they adopted in 1968 and debating an update.

The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws is behind the effort. In 2006, it introduced a new Uniform Anatomical Gift Act to address issues that currently slow down organ donation.

Since the first model law was passed, several states have passed additional legislation to encourage organ donation, including the development of donation registries run by state Departments of Motor Vehicles, arrangements for payments for leave of absences related to organ donations and the addition of a $10,000 income tax deduction for live organ donors to recover expenses.

Unfortunately, such efforts still haven't closed the gap between donors and those who need organs. The NCCUSL's model code addresses some of the remaining problems. Among other things, it protects a donor's wishes from being revoked by family after death, expands the list of people who can consent to an unconscious patient becoming a donor and states that an incapacitated patient's wish not to be kept on life support should not be construed as a refusal to donate.

So far, the law has been approved by eight states and is awaiting consideration in 17 legislatures. Concerns that the new provisions could lead to people being kept on life support against their wishes may hinder its approval in some states.

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