Gift of Life Michigan urges legislature to approve HOPE Act

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Legislation enables organ transplants from HIV-positive donors to HIV-positive patients

Legislation introduced into the Michigan House of Representatives on March 11 could bring hope to patients living with HIV.

State Rep. Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Township) has introduced the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act, which will allow organs from potential donors with HIV to be transplanted into HIV-positive patients. Currently, the law prohibits life-saving organs from HIV-positive donors to be used to save the lives of HIV-positive patients here in Michigan. Instead, these vital organs recovered by Gift of Life Michigan are sent to out-of-state patients.

“Because of outdated language in the Health Code, we must send these organs out of state instead of saving patients in Michigan,” said Dorrie Dils, CEO of Gift of Life Michigan, the state’s federally designated organ and tissue recovery program. “The HOPE Act introduced today by Rep. Felicia Brabec would remove that restriction. It would allow these organs to benefit Michigan patients, bring the state in line with federal law, increase efficiency and give hope to residents waiting for these life-saving gifts.”

“We are so fortunate to live in a state that is home to talented medical researchers and transplant teams who work every day to improve the science of saving lives through organ donation,” said Brabec, who serves on the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee. “This bill simply brings the state in line with federal law and frees up additional organs for Michiganders.”

The HOPE Act was enacted nationally in 2015, but efforts to enact it here in Michigan have been unsuccessful. Since 2015, 19 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the legislation. Transplants between HIV-positive donors and HIV-positive patients take place at 30 hospitals and transplant centers across the country.

The Gift of Life Michigan Governing Board and Advisory Board – which includes representatives of the state’s nine organ transplant programs – endorse this effort to boost the number of organs for transplant for their patients, as well.

“Every time someone in our state receives a life-saving transplant, that means one less person is waiting and there is more hope for those still in need,” said Dils. “I urge the legislature to pass this measure as soon as possible.”

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