Petrarca applauds House passage of organ donation bill

HARRISBURG, Oct. 10 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, said he applauds the House’s passage today of a bill he believes would re-establish Pennsylvania as a leader in organ and tissue donation awareness and transplantation.

Senate Bill 180 – which now heads to the governor’s desk – would help ensure more patients in need have access to lifesaving organs and would further educate the public about the need for donors.

Petrarca, who has worked on organ donation legislation for several years and introduced a similar measure last year, said the bill is a long-overdue update to Pennsylvania’s original organ donation law.

“I’m delighted that the House voted unanimously to pass an amended version of this bill,” said Petrarca, who has served by gubernatorial appointment on the state’s organ donation advisory committee since its inception in 1995. “Someone in Pennsylvania dies every 18 hours waiting for an organ that never arrives. With statistics like that, we can’t afford to delay any longer. This is about giving the gift of life to more than 8,000 people statewide on the waiting list for organ donations. Today’s vote moves us one step closer to that.”

In addition to helping patients and educating the public, Petrarca noted that the bill would improve communications between county coroners or medical examiners and organ procurement organizations and help ensure that donation procedures do not interfere with a criminal investigation.

The bill would also protect donors’ wishes by allowing someone with power of attorney to authorize donation. If the dying person’s intent is not clear, the bill would set forth a procedure to contact family and caregivers to learn the person’s intent with regard to organ donation.

Pennsylvania's current law was drafted in 1994 by Petrarca's father, the late Rep. Joseph A. Petrarca Sr., who was himself an organ donation recipient. The legislation made Pennsylvania a national leader in setting the standard for anatomical donations.

“Pennsylvania once led the way in this area,” Petrarca said. “Now, we’re one of only a few states that have not updated our laws with a uniform anatomical gift act. Fortunately, with the passage of this comprehensive bill today, we’ll be bringing new hope and a chance at new life to thousands.”