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March 1, 2004

Ortiz Holds Press Conference to Discuss Organ Donor Benefit Plan

Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz (D-51 A.D.) was joined today by Executive Director of the National Kidney Foundation, Carol Lafleur, as well as Tom Santa Barbara, a kidney donor who has experienced the difficult process of organ donation. Ortiz is announcing the introduction of legislation in the Assembly that would greatly alleviate the financial burden that is felt during the donation and recovery process. The bill would cover non-reimbursed expenses associated with living organ donation such as travel, lodging and lost wages by providing up to a $10,000 tax deduction for organ donors. These expenses are sometimes beyond individuals means and the financial difficulties may prevent some suitable donors from participating in the donation process.

"After witnessing my mothers need for a kidney transplant and the financial difficulties felt by my sister after her donation, I realized more needed to be done to assist the brave men and women who donate such a precious gift." stated Ortiz.

Last year there where nearly 85,000 patients awaiting life saving organ donations in the United States. According to the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network there were only 6,184 living organ donors across the nation, and there were just 460 donors in New York State. Of those, 5,874 were kidney donations, with the remainder being partial donations of the liver, pancreas and lungs.

"With expenses such as travel back and forth to medical centers, lodging and uncovered medical, financial hardships may occur. These difficulties are only increased by lost wages due to the transplant and recovery process. These obstacles must be eliminated so more viable donors may participate without accruing considerable debt." continued Ortiz.