Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that he has introduced new legislation, the Organ Donation Awareness and Promotion Act of 2015, to boost research into organ donation science and to increase awareness. Over 123,000 people in the United States are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. Approximately, 21 people die each day waiting for an organ that may never arrive – which translates into over 6,200 people who pass away each year while waiting.
“There are few acts more selfless and more powerful than the decision to donate a loved one’s organs,” Senator Casey said. “It’s hard to imagine how a family summons the strength to donate a loved one’s organs especially after a tragic event. But over and over again families in our state and across the nation have chosen to give the gift of life to someone in need. This legislation will build on the successful work already being done to invest in research and promote awareness.”
Charles, M. Miller, M.D., American Society of Transplant Surgeons President: "Educating the public about the importance of organ donation is critical to saving lives. More than 6,000 people died in 2014 while waiting for an organ. The American Society of Transplant Surgeons applauds Senator Casey's efforts to increase funding for public education under the Public Health Service Act and encourage more people to save lives by becoming organ donors."
David J. Reich, M.D., Professor and Chief of Transplantation at Hahnemann University Hospital and Drexel University College of Medicine: “Pennsylvania has a long tradition of leadership in organ donation and transplantation. Transplant professionals strongly support Senator Casey’s efforts to enhance the federal commitment to increasing organ donation for patients in our state and across the country.”
In FY 2015, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) was appropriated a total of $23,549,000 on organ transplantation activities, approximately half of which was used to operate the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network and the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients. Increasing the funding dedicated to awareness and educational efforts will help increase the number of registered organ donors, who are more likely to become donors in the event of death than unregistered individuals whose families must make the decision.
The Organ Donation Awareness and Promotion Act reauthorizes and increases funding for several critical programs authorized under Sec. 377A of the Public Health Service Act that support education and awareness among the general public and among health care professionals about the importance of organ donation:
- Organ Donation Public Awareness Program: This program supports ongoing public education and awareness campaigns to increase awareness about organ donation and the need to provide for an adequate rate of donation.
- Studies and Demonstrations: This peer-reviewed program provides, via grants or contracts, funds for studies and demonstration projects to increase organ donation and recovery rates, including living donation. Ongoing projects under this effort include a study to test the effectiveness of different strategies for increasing individual or family consent for donation, with an option to allow projects to educate parents about the need for pediatric donors (most of whom are too young to register, as states usually use driver’s licensing efforts as the primary means to enroll potential donors). The President’s budget requested $4.6 million for these activities for FY 2016.
- Grants to States: These grants assist states in carrying out organ donor awareness, public education, and outreach activities and programs based on the need of that state.
- Educational Activities: This program supports multiple efforts to conduct outreach and educate stakeholders, including: the general public, specific segments of the population, health care professionals, and others. This work is conducted both independently and in conjunction with the organ donation and transplant community, including relevant professional organizations. The President’s budget requested $3.5 million for these activities for FY 2016.
The Organ Donation Awareness and Promotion Act will authorize $5 million per year for each of these programs, totaling $20 million per year.