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A bill to expand organ donor registration in Kentucky has successfully made it through the state House of Representatives and now awaits Gov. Matt Bevin’s signature. It is expected to take effect next year.

The legislation, backed by Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates and Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust for Life, was approved by the House on Tuesday after being passed by the Senate earlier this month.

Senate Bill 77 will make it possible to register for organ donation through the Kentucky Online Gateway, a single sign-on system for accessing various government programs. The public also can continue to use old methods, such as signing up when getting a driver’s license or by going online to donatelifeky.org.

“It’s so vital that we have everyone register as an organ donor because there are people on the waiting list in need of lifesaving transplants and every day 22 people die waiting in America,” said Shelley Snyder, executive director of Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust for Life. “… If we had everyone registered, we know that tragedy wouldn’t happen, and so that’s our hope is that people will sign up and say that they are willing to save a life when they are gone.”

Sen. Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, introduced the bill after the Trust for Life expressed concern last year that Kentucky’s move to eight-year driver’s licenses might reduce the number of people registering to become organ donors.

“We are just so proud and honored that unanimously every single legislator voted for this on both sides of the aisle, in the House and the Senate,” Snyder said. “It is just such a beautiful moment of kindness and generosity and unity of really working together to save Kentuckians’ lives.”

In Kentucky, there are more than 1,000 people on the waiting list for organs, and nearly 114,000 candidates waiting nationwide, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

Organs that can be transplanted include the heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas and small intestine, so a single donor can save many lives.

Also, donated corneas can help preserve and restore sight, and donated human tissue has many surgical uses.

“A lot of people don’t realize when you have heart bypass surgery, especially females, you often require donated tissue,” Snyder said.

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Darla Carter
Darla Carter is a hometown girl who recently joined the staff of Insider Louisville to mostly cover health. She previously served as a longtime health and fitness writer for The Courier-Journal, where she also worked for the Metro, Neighborhoods and Features departments. Prior to that, the award-winning journalist wrote for newspapers elsewhere in Kentucky and Tennessee, covering a range of topics, from education to courts. She's a graduate of Western Kentucky University, where she studied journalism and philosophy, and is the proud mom of two young children.