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Improved organ donor laws desperately needed. (On First Reading).

Delaware has joined seven other states in streamlining organ donation procedures, pushed by two legislators who have a personal interest in the issue.

The new Delaware law specifies that if a person has clearly indicated his or her wish to be an organ donor, "their family cannot thwart that desire after their death," says Representative Jerry Buckworth, who is himself a transplant recipient.

Co-sponsoring the bill was Senator Thurman Adams, whose son died waiting for a new liver. The organ was available, but doctors needed the permission of the donor's family to harvest the liver and implant it. By the time family members were located, it was too late.

Representative Buckworth says he is alive to day because his wife was able to donate one of her kidneys and save his life.

"When my kidneys were destroyed by disease," he says, "I was faced with a choice of death or dialysis. Fortunately, my wife proved to be a good match for me and made a living donation of one of her kidneys."

But Buckworth knows his story is rare. About 15 people die each day because of lack of available human organs, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Awareness campaigns on the national and local level have helped convince many people of the great good that can be derived from becoming a donor and of the need for potential donors to make their wishes clear to family and friends," Buckworth says.

"Frustrating the success of these efforts has been a counterproductive mandate that family members give their consent at the critical moment. It's a decision grieving families are ill prepared to make, even when they know it was the wish of the deceased," he says.

Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee have also taken action to ensure that the expressed wishes of organ donors were carried out.
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Publication:State Legislatures
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U5DE
Date:Feb 1, 2002
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