Opt-out NJ Senate Pres Steve Sweeney!
In response to little mia’s alleged transplant denial for being mentally retarded, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney and Democratic Rep Joseph Vitale rushed to create a bill. They introduced S1456 which fines hospitals if they deny a patient based solely on the basis of them having a mental or physical disability. It is currently on its’ way to the full Senate to see if it will pass there. In an election year, of course it will pass. It has all the warm fuzziness that the libs and dems are looking for in a cause. It’s too bad, however, that the Senators are not more concerned with the actual organ donation and transplant system. It is all well and good to say that everyone should be eligible for a transplant, but when the organs are not there, what good does eligibility really do.
Think of our current transplant system as a colander. Our current system is a small bowl with a bunch of holes that we are pouring water into. Some of the water will seep thru the holes, some of the water will stay in the bowl, and the majourity of the water will overflow the top. That is exactly what is happening with organ donors and recipients. The water that seeps thru the holes are the lucky ones who received their transplant. The water in the bowl are those waiting. The water overflowing the top are the one who will die while they are waiting. Our system is broken and adding to the burdern helps no one.
We currently have a finite number of organs available. In most cases, you have to harvest organs after death. There are cases, like with kidneys or livers, where you can harvest from living donors. Either way you go, there just are not enough organs being donated to fill the demand for transplant. As of today, there are 116,558 people waiting for a transplant. Offiially, by tonight at least 16 of those will be dead. The actual death rate of those waiting for transplant will be higher because “died waiting for transplant” is not listed as cause of death on the certificate. The COD is usually CHF, pneumonia, MI, kidney failure, or whatever reason the person was on the list to begin with. In reality, the number of people who will die today while waiting for their transplant will be closer to 250.
Why aren’t Steve Sweeney, Joseph Vitale, and all those supporting S1456 passing laws that will provide more organs for transplantation?! There are two very simple fixes for this problem.
#1: Change our current Opt-In system to the European Opt-Out program. The Opt-Out system means that every person who lives in the USA would be a donor upon their death unless they chose to “opt-out” on their drivers license. Currently, people have to choose to “opt-in” or specifically place themselves on the donor registry. Most people don’t think about donating their organs. There are people who incorrectly believe that organ donation will somehow affect the way their corpse will look in their coffin. It does not. Your body will look exactly the same (as if it really mattered since you won’t be using it anymore) and your funeral will proceed as normal. There are people who aren’t against organ donation, they just don’t realize the need is so great or they don’t realize they will be eligible for one reason or another. For whatever the reason, the Opt-Out system still gives people the avenue to refuse organ donation but increases the number of organs donated because most people do not choose to Opt-Out. Research the European statistics for yourself and see what a difference it makes.
#2: Stem cell. Pass laws where stem cells can be used in every transplant procedure. It is absolutely amazing when you look at what happens when a patient’s own stem cells are injected into the organ being transplanted. It allows organs that normally would not have enough markers to be a “match” to the patient to not only survive, but thrive. The stem cells allow the body to accept the transplanted organ is its’ own. Patients are even able to stop taking post-transplant medications that they would normally be on for the rest of their lives! Stem cells are harvested from your own body, then injected into the organ going into your body. How simple is that yet the lawmakers like those passing S1456 are fighting stem cells. It doesn’t make sense to fight something that can help so many people!
There are more options for increasing the organ donor base, such as increased awareness and education. The important issue is that the lawmakers supporting S1456 realize they are taxing an overburdened system and that they need to do something to help rectify the situation.
Lawmakers – Do not just support the warm fuzzy bills that will get you votes because they are political hot buttons right now. You were elected to make real changes that benefit ALL your constiuents. Follow S1456 up with a bill supporting the Opt-Out Donor Program as well as one supporting Stem Cells used in Transplants.
Send your state reps links to this blog or a simple email asking them to do this for EVERYONE – not just those with MR!
*************************** In memory of someone I knew since we were aged 5 ******************************
It’s been 12 years since you left us, D. You died because of PC BS that prevented you from getting your new heart in time. You are gone but you are not forgotten. We love and miss you D!