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Health, Science & Tech

New Act Hopes to Increase Organ Donation

More than 8,000 people are awaiting transplants in Pennsylvania. That’s according to Donate Life PA which also said an average of 490 people die each year while waiting for a matching organ to become available.

SB 850, also known as the Donate Life PA Act, would revise the 1994 law on organ donation.

The legislation aims to create more awareness about donation, emphasize that transplantation is the priority for donated organs and increase the likelihood that people will donate.

According to Donate Life PA, organ donations can save up to eight lives and help improve the quality of life of more than 50 people.

About 4.4 million people have donor designation on their driver’s licenses, learner’s permits or state IDs -- half of the amount eligible to register.

“We have to do this because there are thousands of people who are in a life and death struggle here that need these organ donations and transplants in order to survive,” Senator Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), the bill’s sponsor, said.

He said the act also encourages cooperation among medical examiners, coroners and the organ procurement organizations.

“We’re losing the opportunity from people who want to donate their organs at death but are having some difficulty in setting up a procedure in which those organs can be donated in a timely matter because it’s very time-sensitive,” Greenleaf said.

According to Greenleaf, Pennsylvania’s 1994 law provides for anatomical donations, but there have been many changes and improvements since then.

He said the commonwealth was once the leader in organ donations, but 46 states have since passed updated versions of their laws.

Donate Life Pa’s website addresses the misconceptions people have about organ donations such as the fear that doctors are less likely to save the life of a donor.

Greenleaf said the state needs to address what he called a public “health crisis.”

“They’re there, and there’s a shortage, there’s years of waiting for some of these organs, but that’s not necessary, we could substantially reduce that waiting period if we would have a better process in place,” Greenleaf said.

The bill is now awaiting Senate action.