Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a senior member of the Florida Congressional Delegation, and the co-chair of the Congressional Organ and Tissue Donation Caucus, is pleased to be an original co-sponsor of legislation that is designed to increase federal funding for the operation of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). The Organ Transplantation Authorization Act of 2008, H.R. 6469 would also appropriate necessary financial support to programs within the OPTN, which are in dire need of funding to continue operation.
Ros-Lehtinen has been a strong and consistent advocate of organ transplants and of educating the public on this important issue thus she is proud to co-sponsor this legislative project. Other Members of Congress that have signed on are Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-Colorado), the chair of the Congressional Organ and Tissue Donation Caucus, Dave Camp (R-Michigan) and William Clay (D-Missouri), amongst others.
The provisions of this bill stress the ongoing and critical issues that organ transplant patients around the nation are suffering due to the lack of management for financial resources. The National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) of 1984 authorized the creation and operation of the OPTN, but limits Federal support to no more than $2 million annually, an estimate of only 8% of the current cost of operation. The authorization for funding has not been increased since the enactment of the NOTA in 1984, when the operating cost of the OPTN was only $5 million; the projected cost of operating the OPTN in 2008 is approximately $27 million.
The responsibilities of the OPTN include facilitating the matching of deceased donor organs with individuals waiting for an organ transplant, developing policies and procedures for organ recovery, distribution (allocation), collecting and managing scientific data about organ donation and transplantation, providing professional and public education regarding donation and transplantation, and maintaining the nation's organ transplant waiting list. The bill will raise the authorization of federal funding from $2 million to $7 million.
Ros-Lehtinen said, "I urge my colleagues to add their names to our bi-partisan effort to confront the ongoing issue of stagnant Federal funding to the network responsible for the infrastructure and procedures regarding organ transplants. Now is the time to co-sponsor this bill and assist the thousands in the nation requiring an organ transplant."