Thursday, April 21


Gov. Blagojevich celebrates National Donate Life Month       Send a link to a friend

New law increases organ availability for transplant

[APRIL 21, 2005]  CHICAGO -- In celebrating April as National Donate Life Month, Gov. Rod Blagojevich highlighted a new law that helps facilitate organ donations. The Stan Scott Law, signed into law last August by Blagojevich, mandates that hospitals must inform family members of all options surrounding their loved one's organ donations, including a free transfer to a different hospital in circumstances when the original hospital is unable to perform organ donations.

"This law will ensure that those that wish to donate their organs have every opportunity to do so," the governor said. "As we celebrate Donate Life Month we should remember that through tragedy one can still help others live. I encourage everyone to become organ donors. For the person who receives a donated organ, it can mean the difference between having a healthy life or being confined to a bed. It can make the difference between being able to see or being blind. And many times, it can mean the difference between life and death."

Illinois has the largest organ donation registry in the nation, with over 6 million registered donors, yet nearly 5,000 Illinoisans are waiting for transplants. To date, over 14,000 Illinois residents have received transplants of some kind, and over 1,000 were saved last year because of donated organs.

In attendance at a press conference with the governor was Kathleen Scott, whose husband's tragic death inspired her to push for the legislation. Her husband, Stan, lost his life in a tragic accident at age 35. At the time of his death, his organs were not donated because the hospital did not inform Kathleen of the details of its organ donation policy. The Stan Scott Law requires hospitals to notify the patient or decision-maker about all organ donation policies and options available to the patient. These extra steps guarantee that organ donors are able to provide their healthy organs to those in need.

"The tragedy of my 35-year-old husband's death was compounded by our inability to donate his organs, due to a policy at the hospital that we were never told about," Mrs. Scott said. "He was not able to help save the lives of others, as was his wish. The purpose of this law is to protect the rights of other families so their loved ones will not have to die in vain."

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House Bill 4862, or Stan Scott's Law, amended the Organ Donation Request Act by requiring an additional level of notification to a hospital patient, or the family of that patient, who wants to proceed with an organ donation. When the original hospital is unable to perform the donation, the law also allows for a patient to be transferred to another hospital that could perform the donation at no cost to the patient.

Rep. Michael P. McAuliffe, R-Chicago, was the bill's chief sponsor in the House, while Sen. James A. DeLeo, D-Chicago, sponsored the bill in the Senate. The bill passed both chambers unanimously and was signed by the governor on Aug. 9, 2004.

"I would like to thank Gov. Rod Blagojevich for signing this organ donation legislation," McAuliffe said. "This legislation will provide families with more information on hospital's organ donation policy and procedures. I would also like to thank the governor for coming out to my district to help make the public more aware about organ donation."

In 2003, President Bush first announced that the month of April will be observed as National Donate Life Month, a time to raise public awareness of the critical need for organ, tissue, marrow and blood donation.

[News release from the governor's office]

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