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Wis. bill paves way for more organ donation

Jan. 29, 2004

Staff editorial

Senators in Wisconsin voted 28-2 earlier this month to allow living organ donors to deduct up to $10,000 in lost wages from state income taxes. The deduction will also include donation-related travel and lodging expenses.

The donor's surgery and medical costs are usually covered by the organ recipient's health insurance, but lost wages, the target of the proposed bill, have for too long been the responsibilities of the donors. During the bill's hearing, doctors told legislators many organ donor patients incur multiple financial hardships after surgery.

Organs used for transplants generally come from live donors and from those who are declared brain dead.

While organs donated by the families of the deceased have for years been from where most transplanted organs come, the number of living-donor organs topped the others for the first time in 2001.

Rep. Steve Wieckert, R-Wis., wrote this bill in an attempt to 'reduce the disincentives' for donating.

'If you donate an organ, that's noble enough,' Wieckert said in an article in the Chicago Sun-Times. 'You shouldn't have to pay to be able to do it.'

Wieckert also said this particular legislation would be the first of its kind to help compensate donors.

The bill will now go to Gov. Jim Doyle for his consideration. It specifically targets living donors, who provide organs such as kidneys, livers, intestines, lungs and bone marrow.

The bill comes as physicians are looking for more ways to entice people to donate organs. With 17 people dying every day as they wait for a transplant, this bill has the potential to help individuals and families who choose to donate organs by lessening the financial burden many must endure as a result of their generosity.

The Lariat believes this piece of legislation will serve to assist donors while steering clear of a problem critics say comes alongside this bill - allowing donors to profit from their donation.

Since the tax break only averages around $550 per donor each year, the opportunity for large financial gain is virtually nonexistent.

Although there are some who believe this legislation has the potential to put healthy individuals at risk for injury or death due to the often complicated surgeries involved in organ donations, The Lariat believes this bill is a great idea, and an excellent way to encourage potential donors to give the gift of life.