|In the near future, we plan to introduce legislation to update and modernize the procedure related to organ donation in the Commonwealth. It is important to note that this legislation is designed to increase organ donation in Pennsylvania while modernizing and updating the process.
The legislation will comprehensively revise Chapter 86 of Title 20 (anatomical donation) in such a way as to attempt to address the critical shortage in organs while at the same time providing information to prospective organ donors, their families, and the public about the process of organ donation. We firmly believe that giving a part of one’s body to another is a great gift. To validate the personal autonomy of donors and to honor the wishes of donor families, it is of paramount importance that legislation addressing organ donation include provisions which encourage informed consent. Consequently, the philosophical underpinning of our legislation is two-fold: (1) to increase organ donation in order to help patients; and (2) to establish a mechanism for consent to be truly informed on the part of prospective donors.
The necessity for informed consent is further highlighted by advances in the field of organ donation. Traditionally, when the term “organ donation” is used, we think of heart, lung, kidney, and other organs that need a continuous blood supply. However, new ground in the area of organ donation is being taken constantly by physicians and scientists. For example, today it is possible for a person to donate a hand, a face, or a limb. These new types of donations - - hand, face, limb - - are called vascularized composite allografts or VCAs for short. Our legislation adds a new Subchapter D to Chapter 86 in order to specifically address the procedure for asking for donations of hands, facial tissue or an arm or leg.
Our legislation contains the following elements:
- Establishment of a new registry within the Department of Transportation called the Donate Life PA Registry.
- Establishment of a new standard to be used by organ procurement organization when asking families for organs and tissues.This standard is taken from the report and model act put forth by the Uniform Law Commission and regarding organ donation.
- An expansion of the next of kin who may authorize organ donation, including for the first time in Pennsylvania law, a grandparent or an adult grandchild.
- A procedure that hospitals and organ procurement organizations must follow to ensure that the decedent’s wishes about end of life care and organ donation are followed as set forth in a living will, power of attorney, health care power of attorney or other document executed by the decedent.The legislation contains updated language in the sample living will found in current law to encourage informed consent.
- A provision which requires the Department of Transportation to place comprehensive information about organ donation, including donation of VCAs, on its website and in drivers’ license centers.
- The requirement that Project Make-a-Choice, a program funded through the Department of Health to encourage organ donation, include comprehensive information about the process of organ donation, including donation of VCAs.
- A provision requiring the Department of Health to become the lead Commonwealth agency responsible for promoting organ, tissue, and eye donation in the Commonwealth.
- The creation of a new Subchapter D entitled Hands, Facial Tissue, Limbs and Other Vascularized Composite Allographs.The intent of the new subchapter is to provide guidance to health care providers, organ procurement organizations and the public about donation of VCAs so that these gifts will be made with informed consent.The provisions in the new subchapter include a procedure for organ procurement organizations to ask for donations of VCAs which is separate and apart from the procedure for asking for what we traditionally think of as organs (heart, lung, kidney, for example).In addition, the new subchapter provides the request for a VCA must educate the donor family about the process of recovery of VCAs and that the person or persons making the request document the issues discussed with the family.
Please join us in co-sponsoring this legislation.