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The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation in early March to boost organ donation rates and provide grants to living organ donors. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced similar legislation in the Senate, but it has yet to vote on the bill.
Included in the House legislation are noncontroversial portions of a broader bill that originally passed the House in 1999. The bill later stalled in the Senate. The primary goal of the failed legislation was to overturn a controversial regulation to require a national waiting list for available organs.
A new contract between Richmond, VA-based United Network for Organ Sharing and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services settled a fight between the two groups. The new legislation will authorize the payment of transportation and living expenses of individuals donating a kidney or portion of a liver, or any other organ to low-income recipients. Payments would be made from annual grants of $5 million.
The other provision provides grants to states, starting with $15 million in the first year, to improve public awareness and expand outreach efforts to increase organ donation.