ORGAN DONORS: Administration Launches Major Initiatives
The Clinton administration stepped up its efforts Friday to increase organ donation, announcing a "series of initiatives" aimed at educating the public on the subject (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 9/25). Vice President Al Gore presented awards totaling $5.2 million this year and $13 million over the next three years to 18 community-based projects focused on encouraging people to donate organs (HHS release, 9/24). The grants will help the community organizations "improve the donation request process, increase outreach to minority communities and implement school-based and workplace donor education programs." The grants will be accompanied by a new campaign of public service announcements and conferences with health care providers and transplant experts "to share strategies."
Time Off to Donate
President Clinton also did his part Friday to help more federal employees become donors, signing the Organ Donor Leave Act, "which expands the current seven-day limit on leave for organ donation" to 30 days of paid leave in addition to time off for illness or vacation (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 9/25). The measures are all part of 1997's National Organ and Tissue Donation Initiative, "a comprehensive plan targeting the donor shortage launched" by Gore and HHS Secretary Donna Shalala. Currently, more than 65,000 people are on the national waiting list for transplants. Experts estimate that while there are between 8,000 and 15,000 potential donors every year, more than 4,000 people die annually awaiting a transplant (HHS Press Release, 9/24).