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.
Legislation 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.
Gift 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.
Governor 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.
Congressional 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.
Partnership 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: The opioid crisis is the reason for the growth in organ donation.
Fact: The opioid crisis is not why organ donation has grown in Michigan. From 2018 to 2021, the number of organ donors increased by 27%. Yet over the same period, the number of drug-related deaths referred for possible donation decreased by 31%.