Children’s supports bill that would protect jobs of live organ donors
January 29, 2016
MILWAUKEE – Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin hosted a press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 26, to announce proposed legislation that would require a business of a certain size to provide up to six weeks of unpaid leave to workers who elect to be a bone marrow or organ donor.
The bill was proposed by Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. Cory Mason. “My husband was on the organ donation waiting list when he passed away, so I know firsthand what it’s like to wait and hope,” said Darling, whose husband passed away in 2015. “By removing barriers to organ donation, more families won’t have to wait, hope will come and their loved one will get a second chance.”
On average, 22 people die each day while waiting for a transplant, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
“If passed, the bill would immediately remove a barrier to being a live donor. Few actions could have such an immediate impact,” said Dr. Michael Zimmerman, pediatric kidney transplant program director at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, at the news conference. “As a transplant surgeon, it is difficult to lose a patient when you know you could have given them a chance if only there was an organ available.”
Linda Bevec, whose daughter Claire required a kidney transplant at age 9 due to autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease, called it a shame to lose potential living organ donors because an employer might not allow the necessary time off for a healthy recovery. Claire received her kidney from a family friend who had to use all of his vacation time and unpaid leave to recover from the operation. Thankfully, the employer of the family friend understood the importance of the decision and approved the leave. To make that support universal would remove a potential barrier for some donors.
“This bill would no doubt make it possible for more organ donors to save lives in Wisconsin, but it would increase the pool of viable living donors for faster-matching, healthier transplants,” Bevec said.
According to Darling, 26 states currently have legislation that provides unpaid leave to employees at certain-sized businesses.
About the proposed legislation
Current law requires employers to provide medical leave to their employees. Current law does not allow that leave to cover a bone marrow or organ donor. The proposed bill would:
• Allow an employee to take no more than six weeks of unpaid leave for the purpose of a bone marrow or organ donation.
• Only cover the time necessary for the employee to undergo the donation procedure and recovery.
• Require employees to provide documentation confirming a patient needs the bone marrow or organ transplant and that the employee is eligible and a match to serve as a donor for that person to the employer.
• Only cover businesses with 50 or more employees working full-time.
• Limit the employees eligible who have worked at a qualified business for 52 consecutive weeks and worked at least 1,000 hours.
Facts about organ donation
• Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is one of four transplant centers in Wisconsin. The other three are Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin, Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center and University of Wisconsin Hospital.
• Last week, 27 kids at Children’s were on an organ transplant waiting list – five for kidneys, 10 for livers and 12 for hearts.
• In 2015, 565 organ transplants were done in Wisconsin. Of those, 124 included a living donor.
• Children’s does kidney, liver and heart transplants.
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is the region’s only independent health care system dedicated solely to the health and well-being of children. The hospital, with locations in Milwaukee and Neenah, Wisconsin, is recognized as one of the leading pediatric health care centers in the United States. It is ranked in nine specialty areas in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015-16 Best Children’s Hospitals report. Children’s provides primary care, specialty care, urgent care, emergency care, community health services, foster and adoption services, child and family counseling, child advocacy services and family resource centers. In 2014, Children’s invested more than $102 million in the community to improve the health status of children through medical care, advocacy, education and pediatric medical research. Children’s achieves its mission in part through donations from individuals, corporations and foundations and is proud to be a member of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. For more information, visit the website at chw.org.