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Help support organ donor programs

Jim Porter, Sierra Sun

Every now and then our elected officials in Sacramento come up with a good idea, followed with a bill worth supporting. State Senator Jackie Speier has done just that.

In the past, this column has encouraged readers to participate in organ donor programs. I have a colored sticker on my driver’s license indicating I would be agreeable to have my organs used by another person after my death, should anyone want them. My body parts aren’t what they used to be.

I always thought it a little funky that a little pink stickum on my license and a well-worn wallet card with my faded signature of authorization was “the program” for organ donations in our great state.

California now has an opportunity to join dozens of other states by enacting a computerized registry of potential organ donors in California, cited as the Organ and Tissue Donor Registry Act of 2001. How proper.

There is a tremendous need for a bona fide organ donor program. According to Senate Bill 108’s legislative history, more than 15,000 Californians are now waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. One in three will die waiting. Organ donors have decreased dramatically in recent years. Most surprisingly, in all of 2000, there were only 626 cadaveric donors in California.

Maybe I am missing something. There could be a religious consideration of which I am not aware, but being an organ donor is a “no-brainer” to me. It is the easiest opportunity each of us has to save someone’s life or give a person a new life. It’s the ultimate gift.

S.B. 108 requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to provide information in a standardized form to be completed by driver’s license and ID card applicants who desire to be organ donors. The registry is maintained by the California Health and Human Services Agency. Consent for organ or tissue transplants after death can be given for all or for specific organs or tissues. It is easy to have your name removed from the registry, which is designed to expedite matches between donors and potential recipients.

This new act would set up a tax-deductible charitable contribution system so private contributions to the program will help fund it. The California program will be coordinated with a federal program and state licensed tissue and eye banks, and maintained on a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week basis.

It will be interesting to follow this bill and see if any opposition develops. Letters or E-mails of support would probably be appreciated. Senator Speier can be reached at senator.speier@sen.ca.gov

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter/Simon, with offices in Truckee and Reno. He is a mediator and was the Governor’s appointee to the Bipartisan McPherson Commission and the California Fair Political Practices Commission. He may be reached at porter@portersimon.com or at the firm’s web site http://www.portersimon.com


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