Organ donor bill advances in Frankfort

The Capitol building in Frankfort | Photo by Olivia Krauth

A bill that would expand options for registering to become an organ donor in Kentucky has advanced out of a committee in Frankfort.

Senate Bill 77 — which would allow Kentuckians to sign up online using a system for accessing governmental services — was passed unanimously by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee Wednesday. The bill, which would be effective Jan. 1, 2020, moves to the House for consideration.

Screenshot from Wednesday’s committee meeting on Senate Bill 77.

Sen. Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, introduced the bill after the Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks’ 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.

The circuit clerks see about one million people a year, but that number could be cut in half because of the longer renewal cycle, according to Trust for Life.

In December, Trust for Life had discussed with lawmakers the possibility of getting a bill passed that would let people sign up to become organ donors when they go to get a hunting and fishing license.

However, Senate Bill 77 would make use of the Kentucky Online Gateway (KOG), a single sign-on system for accessing various government programs, said Shelley Snyder, executive director of Trust for Life.

“When a Kentuckian creates a profile or logs in through KOG, they will have the opportunity to register as a donor during that point of the process,” Snyder said via email.

In a news release, Snyder said Kentucky would be the first in the country “to create a portal to a registry in this manner” and expressed gratitude for Adams’ efforts.

Adams could not be reached for comment but said during the meeting, “Won’t it be nice for us to lead in something positive and uplifting?”

Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates had a record-setting year in 2018, achieving the highest numbers of organ donors and organs transplanted in the organization’s 32-year history, it announced recently. That included 134 organ donors and 423 organs transplanted.