HHS to Introduce National Donor Cards
To help increase the number of organ donations, HHS is set to begin issuing national organ-donor cards, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The donor cards will have more legal weight than a driver's license or an unofficial donor card and will give transplant coordinators a "stronger case" to proceed with donation, regardless of a family's consent. According to HHS officials, the "idea is to give the documents more legal weight and to prompt families to discuss the issue in a manner worthy of a legal document." An HHS official added that the card will give transplant coordinators "a really strong basis for saying, 'We intend to proceed unless you have a strong predisposition otherwise.'" Currently, when faced with potential organ donors, many transplant coordinators will inform family members if their loved one had signed a donor card, but the final decision is left to the family. The proposed cards would include a place for witnesses to sign and for donors to specify what organs they want to donate. The cards are part of a "sweeping plan" -- which also will likely include a media campaign and "efforts to work closely with businesses and states to promote donation" -- that HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson is expected to introduce later this month. He said, "It's odd to me that, in America, this most compassionate country in the world, we have so many people that are dying because of lack of organs." More than 75,600 people are waiting for organs; more than 6,000 of them die each year (Meckler, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/5). During a recent meeting of the Federation of American Hospitals, Thompson said, "I don't want you to die. I just want you to sign the card" (Reuters/Washington Post, 4/4). President Bush's proposed budget also includes $5 million for organ-donation and transplant "activities," an increase of 33% (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.