New state law helps organ donors | Opinion

In just under two months, a new law will come into effect in Pennsylvania designed to assist those willing to give a gift of life – the donation of an organ or tissue to those in need.

The Living Donor Protection Act 11 of 2021 prohibits a life or health insurance company from financially discriminating against an organ or tissue donor. It will also ensure that an eligible employee is granted family and medical leave for preparation and recovery necessary for a donation operation.

“Every year thousands of Americans donate kidneys, livers, and other organs to save the lives of family members, friends, and even complete strangers who are confronted with life-threatening diseases,” said Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-116, of Luzerne County Lead the legislation.

“Organ donation saves lives and money, cuts healthcare costs by up to two-thirds, and saves Medicare millions of dollars every year,” Toohil wrote in a memo to her co-legislators.

“The Living Donor Protection Act will ensure that people who make the life-saving decision to become an organ donor will not face economic barriers as a result of their decision,” she said. “Under this legislation, living organ donors can get insurance and take the medical leave they need, which gives donors greater peace of mind and hopefully encourages more people in the Commonwealth to give the incredible gift of organ donation.”

Your co-legislators on both sides of the aisle agreed. The bill passed 202-0 in the State House on February 4 and 47-0 in the Senate on April 20. It was signed by Governor Tom Wolf seven days later, on April 27, with a provision that it would take effect in 60 days.

One of those ‘yes’ votes came from Lynda Schlegel Culver, R-108, Representative for parts of Northumberland and Snyder counties. She received a kidney donation from an anonymous donor a little over a month ago.

Nearly 70,000 residents of Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties indicated on their driver’s licenses or other identification that they were ready to donate organs, according to a health department report released last year.

Across the Commonwealth, 49.61 percent of citizens have signed organ donor labels indicating that they would be willing to donate their organs or tissues. A target of 50 percent has been set for June 30 of this year.

According to national statistics, there are more than 107,000 people on the national transplant waiting list, and around 17 people die every day waiting for organ donation and transplant.

Those who have agreed to be organ donors are offering a life-saving gift. Starting in late June, the new Pennsylvania Living Donor Protection Act will be there to help.

NOTE: The opinions expressed in The Daily Item editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top editorial officers, and editorial community members. Today’s was written by digital editor Dave Hilliard.

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