Legislative Advocacy

Organ, eye and tissue donation saves lives every day. Gift of Life Michigan is committed to educating the public and advocating for good public policy to protect and advance donation and transplantation.

Photo of a crowd and a blue heart mascot in front of the Michigan State Capitol building, holding their hands in the shapes of hearts

Legislative Advocacy

3 Ways to Stay Informed
Encourage elected officials to support donation-friendly legislation

Bill would add organ donor registry question to state income tax forms

Key legislation would include an important question on state of Michigan income tax forms: Would you like to add your name to the Michigan Organ Donor Registry?

The Check Your Heart Act would allow tax filers to check a box if they want to add their names to the Donor Registry. The Department of Treasury would process registrations with the Michigan Department of State. Those who register would then be able to have the donor heart icon on their driver’s license or state ID.

If passed, Michigan would be the first in the nation to do so. Read more on our News page.

Michigan State Senator and donor father Kevin Daley, State Representative Felicia Brabec, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, kidney patient Armond Baskin, his wife Molly, Gift of Life President & CEO Dorrie Dils at the Donate Life Month kick-off press conference on April 4, 2023.

Governor signs law to protect against discrimination in transplantation

Gift of Life Michigan applauds Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for signing HB 4762 into law. We thank Rep. Bronna Kahle for sponsoring this legislation that will protect those seeking an organ transplant against discrimination based on physical or mental disability. Last year, the Michigan Legislature approved the measure and the governor signed it into law on Dec. 22, 2022.


Female doctor holding open chart looking at the cameraLegislation that encourages family doctors to educate about organ and tissue donation is reintroduced.

On Feb. 1, 2023, the Patient’s Access to Donor Registry Information (PADRI) bill was reintroduced in the House of Representatives in April. HB 4060 will help Michigan family doctors and urgent care centers provide patients with information about organ, tissue, and bone marrow donation. The bipartisan effort is supported by Gift of Life Michigan.

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Group gathers on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol BuildingGift of Life Michigan calls for action – Michigan Organ Donor Registry is growing at the slowest pace since its founding

More than 90% of all registrations come from the Michigan Department of State (MDOS) asking the donor registration question when IDs and driver’s licenses are renewed. We thank MDOS for its years of commitment and support. But office visit changes due to COVID and the shift to fewer and more online transactions have had an unintended negative consequence on the Donor Registry. It’s now growing at its slowest pace since its inception in 1994.

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Governor Whitmer holding up the signed HOPE Act papersGovernor signs HOPE Act into law

Legislation signed into law in December 2021 enables organs from HIV-positive donors to be transplanted into HIV-positive patients. Prior to this legislation, Gift of Life Michigan could recover these organs but had to send them out of Michigan.


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NASEM emblem - gold-toned figure holding a torchCongressional Committee’s report from NASEM calls for a review of the transplant system

At Gift of Life Michigan, we agree that reform is needed to save more lives. The congressional committee looking at Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) commissioned a report from the National Academy of Science Engineering and Medicine (NASEM). The NASEM report called for continuous improvement, not just with OPOs, but system-wide to maximize organ donation and transplant potential in our nation. We couldn’t agree more. From the start of this process, Gift of Life Michigan advocated for a system-wide approach that would not only look at OPOs, but also transplant centers, hospital partners, and United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). We agree that no patient should die waiting for an organ transplant and more is needed to make sure that does not happen.

NASEM report highlights:

  • They recommended that all OPOs build a “donor care center,” which Gift of Life Michigan already has.
  • They asked that CMS remove financial barriers from transplant hospitals to move donors to care centers, which we agree with.
  • They want OPOs held accountable for not responding to referrals on-site. Gift of Life Michigan is increasing staff to ensure that we are present to facilitate all possible cases in Michigan.
  • They set a metric that all OPOs should be at 45% of their donors from donation by circulatory death (DCD) – Gift of Life Michigan is in the top five OPOs for DCDs.
  • They want to decrease the number of organs rejected. Currently, 25% of kidneys that OPOs recover are declined by transplant programs. They recommend a rejection rate of 5%.
  • They called for more transparency from transplant centers and the fact that nearly all patients who linger on the list have received many offers that were declined. They want the patient to be more informed and involved in accepting an organ. They also specifically rebuked declines in transplants on the weekends.

Photo of a stately Howard University buildingPartnership with HBCUs to address inequity

The racial inequity in the transplantation system is of great concern to us all. Gift of Life Michigan, through its participation with the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) and in the Organ Donation Advocacy Group (ODAG), has partnered with the Consortium of HBCU Medical Schools to increase the number of Black Americans registered as organ donors and to combat disparities in transplantation.

Gift of Life Michigan has been committed to reaching communities of color and is investing even more resources this year. For decades, we have been contributing to an overall 203% increase in Black donors in the past 20 years in the U.S., compared to a 103% increase in white donors during the same period. As NASEM notes, healthcare disparities are a systemic issue, and we continue to work with our transplant partners to improve access.  


Myth: Medical staff won't work as hard to save you if you're a registered donor.

Fact:  When a patient arrives at the hospital, the number one priority is to save their life. Doctors and other medical personnel have both a moral and legal obligation to give their patients the best care possible. Organ donation is not considered until every effort to save the patient’s life has been exhausted.

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