Senator Kagan Sponsors Bill to Save Lives
State Senator Cheryl Kagan of District 17 has introduced an organ donation bill to expand entry points to Maryland’s registry in order to enlarge the donor pool and shorten the wait for those in need of transplants.
“This bill is about saving lives,” said Kagan. “Expanding our transplant registry will allow us to find a match for the approximately 3,600 Marylanders on waiting lists.”
According to Kagan, only 54 percent of residents are registered as organ donors, ranking Maryland 27th among states.
Kagan said the bill is co-sponsored by 44 of the 47 members of the Senate. The bill has support from local trauma surgeons and nurses, EMS and firefighters, transplant recipients, and the keepers of the registry, Donate Life Maryland.
According to Donate Life Maryland, 18 people die every day while waiting on an organ transplant list and a new patient is added to the list every ten minutes. The good news is that one donor can save as many as eight lives.
One of the transplant recipients testifying on the bill indicated that while he waited for a matching liver, his condition deteriorated to the point that his doctor wasn’t sure he would make it off the operating table during surgery.
“This goes to the heart of the availability issue,” said George Lucas, a Gaithersburg resident. “Diseases that require transplants are degenerative. The patient only gets sicker.”
Currently, most Marylanders register to become organ donors through the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) when they get or renew their driver’s licenses. This bill would expand the places where people can register as a donor, including through the Clerks of the Court (when applying for a marriage license) or Registers of Wills (when filing wills, Living Wills and trusts).
Additionally, the bill would give registrants the option of having (or not having) the heart symbol on their state ID or driver’s licenses. Donate Life Maryland has indicated that some people don’t register because they mistakenly believe that the heart symbol may be a disincentive for physicians or EMS to attempt life-saving measures.