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Lawmaker Wants More Organ Donors to Get a Tax Credit

Traci Taylor
Traci Taylor

I’m one of those people who thinks if you’re going to do something good for someone else, you shouldn’t expect anything in return. I believe that we should all put forth good into the world in some way every day, but if we’re able to spread goodness and love on an even greater scale, that we should jump at the opportunity.

My father was the recipient of a bone marrow transplant that saved his life- a true miracle that doctors told us we wouldn’t experience. And yet, my dad is alive five years later. We’ve been granted more time with him, and for that, I am forever grateful- thankful to God and to the person who didn’t hesitate to offer my dad a second chance at life.

A couple weeks ago, I got a call from the National Marrow Donor Program telling me that I’ve been matched with a woman who needs a bone marrow transplant to survive. I was asked if I would be interested in taking more tests to see if I was the absolute perfect match for the young woman. I didn’t even wait to talk to my husband- my answer was “yes.” Yesterday marks three weeks since I took my last round of tests. I was told that it would take two weeks to 60 days to find out if I’ll be able to help and I have to admit that the waiting has me anxious. Not because I anticipate anything bad, but because I want to help give someone the gift of life just as it was given to my dad.

I donated blood to the American Red Cross here and there before my dad’s cancer diagnosis, but afterward, it became a regular thing because I was more aware of the dire need. It only seemed right that I should give what I had an excess of and that I should also join the National Marrow Donor Program on the off chance that I might be able to help someone. Over the weekend, I filled out a huge mound of paperwork because a dear friend needs a kidney transplant and she asked if I would consider being tested to see if I’m a match.

I’m not telling you all of this to toot my own horn because that’s not even remotely what this is about. I’m telling you with the hope that you’ll be inspired in some small way to give what you’re able and help out a fellow human who’s facing, or already living a nightmare on earth. Whether it’s donating blood, joining the National Marrow Donor Program, or even looking into organ donation.

One New Jersey lawmaker also wants more people to help and so he’s proposed that in the state of New Jersey, people should be offered a $1,000 tax credit if they donate an organ and $100 if they donate blood, platelets, or plasma. I had no idea that these tax breaks even existed but according to Nolo,  New York and Pennsylvania both offer a tax deduction of up to $10,000 for donation-related expenses but that doesn’t mean donors receive the entire $10,000. Donating a kidney can cost upward of $3,000, so even though there are tax breaks in place, in some cases, donors are still left with a hefty expense. This isn’t to say that donation organizations don’t try to help donors however they’re able by way of airfare, lost wages assistance and such, because they do.

While many admire New Jersey Senator Gerald Cardinale for wanting to entice more people to give (the idea came to him after a friend died while waiting for a kidney) an organ, many believe that he’s toeing some murky waters. Troy Zimmerman of the National Kidney Foundation explained to the Washington Post that the National Organ Transplant Act makes it illegal to buy or sell organs, however there are currently 19 states (including New York and Pennsylvania) who offer either a tax credit, or a deduction to some extent for those residents who are living organ donors. Fleming expressed concern that by offering a financial incentive to people to be donors, Pandora’s Box if you will, could end up wide open. A slew of scary things could happen from the creation of a black market to preying on those in financial strain.

It really is a lot to soak in, isn’t it? On one hand, thousands of lives could be saved if more people were given more of an incentive to donate, but on the other hand, things could get ugly with people taking advantage of the situation. It really is a fine line.

I don’t know what will happen with the law in New Jersey and if or how it could affect laws in New York and Pennsylvania, but I’d love if you would do me a favor and at least research how easy it is to join the National Marrow Donor Program and also how easy it is to donate blood.

[via Washington Post/Nolo]

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