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SPRINGFIELD — A bill aimed at promoting voluntary donation of organs such as kidneys or bone marrow from living donors is advancing in the Illinois Senate.

The Senate Revenue Committee voted Wednesday to advance Senate Bill 68, which would give private-sector employers a tax credit if they provide 30 days of paid “organ donation” leave for their employees.

The credit would only apply when an employee is actually off work for an organ donation. The amount would be 25 percent of that employee’s salary or wages for the period of time he or she is off.

“A kidney transplant acts as a literal lifeline for patients suffering from kidney failure, who must either receive a transplant or stay on dialysis for the duration of their lives,” Megan Craig, director of programs for the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois, told the committee.

Craig said there is currently a severe shortage of available organs from deceased donors in the United States. As a result, more than 3,500 Illinois residents are on a waiting list for a kidney, with some waiting for six years or more.

Also testifying Wednesday was 9-year-old Evan Simms, of South Wilmington, who was born with failing kidneys and spent several months on dialysis before receiving a kidney from a living donor a few months before his second birthday.

“Even though I still have to take a lot of medicine to keep my kidney healthy, I get to be a pretty normal kid. I go to school, travel with my family, and play with my friends,” he told the committee. “But not everyone has the same chance I did to get a healthy kidney. I want to make sure that there are as many living donors as possible to help more people like me.”

To qualify for the tax credit, an employer would have to offer 30 days of organ donation leave to all of its employees, and the maximum credit would be $20,833.33 per employee.

The committee voted unanimously to advance the bill to the full Senate, where it is now awaiting action.

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