Committee approves organ donor resolution

                By Geoff Dornan
                Reprinted with permission by Nevada Appeal

                Saturday, April 24, 1999 1:27 AM

                The Senate Human Resources Committee voted unanimously Friday to urge that
                human organs donated by Nevadans be made first offered to Nevada transplant

                But Chairman Ray Rawson, R-Las Vegas, said the advisory resolution ACR19 doesn’t
                go far enough because the real problem is not enough people donate their organs for
                transplant when they die.

                Supporters of the resolution led by Assemblywoman Dawn Gibbons, R-Reno, said
                northern Nevada in particular has a large number of organ donors but that they
                currently go to a regional center in Sacramento or San Francisco and are made
                available to the next person on the list. As a result, many times Nevadans can’t get
                an organ in time even though many more Nevada organs are donated per capita than
                California organs.

                The resolution, which has already been approved by the Assembly, would simply say
                those Nevada organs should be first offered to the Nevadan on the list who is most in
                need of the transplant.

                Rawson said he supports that but that maybe Nevada should do what some
                Scandinavian countries have done and “turn it around so you don’t sign up to become
                a donor.”

                “Why don’t we act in Nevada so that everyone who dies in Nevada will be a donor
                unless they say otherwise,” he said.

                “That would be wonderful,” said Debbie Pinjuv, who has been awaiting for a liver
                transplant nearly three years.

                Rawson was joined by Sen. Valerie Wiener, D-Las Vegas. And all members of the
                committee voted to recommend the Senate give final passage to the advisory

                Lucille Lusk of Nevada Concerned Citizens said she supports organ donor programs –
                that her father did so – but was concerned about the legality and philosophical issues
                raised by making everyone a donor. She suggested the committee make it a law
                instead of a resolution that organs harvested in Nevada be first made available to
                Nevada medical patients and eliminate the requirement that the next of kin be asked
                before organs are harvested. That legal problem often causes the organ to deteriorate
                before the needed organs can be collected and transplanted.

                “Let’s make it a declaratory definition,” she said adding that if the deceased signed
                up as a donor, family permission shouldn’t be needed.

                “After all, the person made that declaration while they were alive and, presumably, of
                sound mind since they were in the process of getting a driver’s license,” she said.

                The committee agreed to take up those issues later but voted on the resolution Friday afternoon.

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