Caption: State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) discusses her proposal to incentivize organ donation with State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Cahokia), a kidney transplant recipient.

SPRINGFIELD – A proposal by State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) making it easier for living organ or bone marrow donors to potentially save a life passed the Senate this week.

“Last year, 3,402 Illinois residents were candidates for a kidney transplant. By the end of the year, however, only 798 people actually received a transplant. That represents less than a quarter of patients who are on the organ donation waiting list,” Morrison said.

Morrison’s plan – contained in Senate Bill 68 – creates the Organ Donation Tax Credit, allowing private employers to take a credit against withholding taxes if the employer offers the ability of employees to take a paid leave of absence of at least 30 days to donate an organ or bone marrow.

Encouraging living donors is key to ensuring more individuals in need of a transplant receive one, Morrison said.

“As a living donor myself, I know the challenges facing many living donors in Illinois and the barriers that keep many would-be donors from giving this lifesaving gift,” said Megan Craig, Director of Programs for the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois. “We know we need to increase the number of living donors in Illinois. We are hopeful all legislators will vote to protect the health and finances of living donors.”

Fourteen other states have passed laws instituting paid leave policies for organ donations. Morrison’s proposal is supported by the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois, the American Kidney Fund and the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network.

Senate Bill 68 passed the Senate on Thursday without opposition and will now head to the Illinois House for further debate.

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