Oklahoma Senate passes bill to allow harvesting of organs from wards of state who are taken off life support following court order

Oklahoma Politics

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma State Senate passed a bill giving courts the power to allow organs to be harvested from children in Department of Human Services custody after the court approves that the child be taken off life support or denied cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Senate Bill 170, written by Brent Howard, R-Altus, was approved by the Senate on Tuesday, according to a State Senate news release.

“There are currently nearly 2,000 children nationwide under the age of 18 on the national transplant waiting list along with more than 100,000 adults. This bill would allow courts to authorize donating the organs of children who pass away while in state custody,” Howard said. “While this is a tragic scenario, these children’s organs can help save so many other lives. We can honor their memories by ensuring other Oklahomans live.”

The bill was not approved during the shortened 2020 legislative session.

Howard said a judge in his district requested the bill. The judge ruled to turn off a child’s ventilator following a physicians recommendation.

“The judge said that the difficult situation was made worse by fact he didn’t feel he had the power to agree to the donation of the child’s organs,” the news release states.

Organs harvested from one individual can save eight lives through the donation of the eyes, kidneys, lungs, intestines, liver, tissue, heart and pancreas. One tissue donor (bone, tendons, cartilage, connective tissue, skin, corneas, sclera, heart valves and vessels) can help as many as 75 people, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

“Seventeen people die every day in the U.S. waiting for an organ to become available, and someone is added to the transplant waiting list every nine minutes,” Howard said. “Given the fact that only three in 1,000 people’s organs are viable for transplant and only 60% of Americans are actually signed up to be donors, this is truly a matter of life and death for so many Oklahomans. I urge my colleagues to join in helping use these young lives that are cut tragically short for a greater good—to help others lives full, healthy lives.”

The bill will next move to the State House of Representatives for consideration. Rep. Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City, is the House author the bill.

Oklahomans can register at www.lifeshareregistry.org/register to become an organ donor.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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