PITTSBURGH, April 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE), a federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organization (OPO) serving Pennsylvania, West Virginia and parts of New York, and Gift of Life Donor Program, one of the oldest and largest OPOs in the nation serving the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware, will participate in a news conference event at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 6, 2011 in the East Wing Rotunda of the Capitol Building in Harrisburg to call on legislators for support of the Donate Life Bill, a restatement of Pennsylvania law focused on anatomical donation. Organ procurement leaders, legislators, donor families and transplant recipients will also gather to celebrate the designation of "Pennsylvania Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Day" by the state's General Assembly.
"The work of medical professionals and researchers to improve surgical techniques and pharmacology has resulted in a significant increase in the success rate for organ, tissue and cornea transplantation," said Howard M. Nathan, president and CEO of Gift of Life. "However, the challenge remains that the number of people in need of transplants far exceeds the number of organs, tissues and corneas that are donated."
There are approximately 8,000 people in need of life-saving organ donations in Pennsylvania and more than 110,000 nationwide. For every person who donates their organs, tissues and corneas, up to 50 lives can be saved or dramatically improved.
"This legislation establishes a comprehensive framework for public education on organ, tissue and cornea donation, clarifies the methods for making an anatomical donation, and updates current law to reflect best clinical practices to support anatomical donation for transplantation," said Susan Stuart, president and CEO of CORE. "With a long-standing history as a leader in organ, tissue and cornea donation, the Donate Life Bill enables Pennsylvania to remain at the forefront of this important public health initiative."
A vital component in the continuation and advancement of organ transplantation in Pennsylvania is the recovery of donor organs, tissues and corneas. State legislators from both ends of the state and both political parties have recognized this need, and have begun the process of addressing fundamental procurement issues by introducing the Donate Life Bill in both chambers. House Bill 100, introduced by Rep. Joseph A. Petrarca; and Senate Bill 750, introduced by Sen. Stewart J. Greenleaf, call for extensive revisions to regulations governing anatomical gifts, including the areas of authorization, procedure, and the rights and duties of hospitals and organ procurement organizations. The current laws were last updated in 1994.
"Despite our progress in the areas of organ, tissue and cornea donor awareness, the growing demand for donations represents a public health issue that merits action," Petrarca said. "If we are to remain a leader in organ, tissue and cornea donation and transplantation, Pennsylvanians must make pronouncements and public policies that both promote and encourage donation."
"Organ donation is critical to saving and enhancing many lives," Greenleaf said. "It is important that the legislature acts to enhance organ donation in Pennsylvania and better educate the public in order to increase participation in the program."
In an effort to draw public attention to the Donate Life Bill and educate fellow legislators, Sen. Lawrence M. Farnese Jr. has introduced a resolution in the state Senate to recognize April 6, 2011 as Pennsylvania Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Day. An identical resolution has been introduced in the House by Petrarca.
"Pennsylvania is a world leader in organ, tissue and cornea transplantation, with 17 transplant centers throughout the commonwealth," Farnese said. "This resolution is meant to recognize our leadership in transplantation and to promote organ, tissue and cornea donation among Pennsylvania citizens."
The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) is one of 58 federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in the United States. CORE works closely with donor families and designated health care professionals to coordinate the surgical recovery of organs, tissues and corneas for transplantation. CORE also facilitates the computerized matching of donated organs and placement of corneas. With headquarters in Pittsburgh and an office in Charleston, West Virginia, CORE oversees a region that encompasses 155 hospitals and almost six million people throughout western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Chemung County, NY. For more information, visit www.core.org or call 1-800-DONORS-7.
About Gift of Life
Since 1974, Gift of Life Donor Program, a not-for-profit organization serving the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware, has been responsible for recovering and distributing organs and tissues used in life-saving and life-enhancing transplants. In that tenure, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 31,000 life-saving organ transplants and hundreds of thousands of tissue transplants. Working with 138 hospital partners, Gift of Life has led the nation in coordinating the highest number of organ donors by an OPO for the last 10 years. For more information, visit www.donors1.org.