Organ Donation

State Sen. John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) believes the Americans with Disabilities Act has greatly improved access to the physical world and employment for those with special needs since its passage 25 years ago, but says it has fallen short when it comes to protecting life.

Individuals with mental or physical disabilities are often denied the opportunity to be listed on organ transplant lists because of their disability, he said. Sabatina introduced legislation to change that as a House member in February, and said he intends to file a similar measure as a freshman member of the Senate.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Sheila Gold met her best friend Joan Dufore under tragic circumstances: Dufore is the mother of the woman whose liver Gold received after she was diagnosed with liver disease.

Dufore, of Norwalk, Ohio, said her daughter always had an altruistic streak, begging her parents to adopt the orphans she saw on television commercials for the nonprofit Save the Children.

“She always wanted to save people and … I always told her ‘We can’t save the world,’ but she did,” Dufore said. “She saved six people.”

State lawmakers are faced, once again, with a plan to revamp the commonwealth's organ donation procedures.

Supporters of the changes say Pennsylvania once set the national standard for organ donations, but has since fallen behind. Proposals to increase education about being a donor and streamline the organ procurement process have failed to gain approval in the past two legislative sessions. Backers of the latest proposal are hoping third time's the charm.

More than 120,000 people across the United States are waiting for an organ transplant — 8,300 in Pennsylvania alone.

April is National Donate Life Month, recognizing those who need transplants, those who have donated and encouraging more people to do so.

Richard Gates pushed off Monday afternoon from Pittsburgh on a 700-mile bike ride to Boston. That’s difficult enough for a perfectly fit person, but consider that the 62-year-old musician is a heart transplant recipient.

This is the third time since 2008 that Gates is making a long bike trip that he calls the Tour de Second Chance. During the trip he will stop at hospitals and meet with patients on the waiting list and recent transplant recipients, “bringing awareness to organ donation and being able to visit with people awaiting hearts and able to answer some questions.”

Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor is hoping that a two-year concentrated effort on organ donation education will help to swell the rolls of organ and tissue donors in the state. The focus of the campaign is that it takes just 30 seconds to register to become an organ donor. 

“In the time it takes you to tie your shoes, you can change your life,” said Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley.  “You can become a hero and become an organ donor. It takes a half minute ... so do it.”