(From left) Anna Haine, state Sen. William Haine and donor family representatives Evelyn Meyer and Lori Prather.
EDWARDSVILLE — State Sen. William Haine (D-Alton) was honored Monday with a Gift of Life Award by Mid-America Transplant Services for his legislation to improve the organ and tissue transplant process in the Metro East.
Haine was the sponsor of House Bill 4120, legislation to improve the tissue and organ donation process in Illinois and save lives. The legislation, which unanimously passed both houses of the Legislature and was signed into law, aims to improve the process for tissue and organ donors by allowing donations to occur at Mid-America Transplant Services’ facility in St. Louis.
“This legislation will fix a technical problem in Illinois law that prevents a funeral director from transporting a donor across state lines for tissue or organ donation,” said Diane Brockmeier, Mid-America Transplant Services’ executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Senator Haine is receiving this award because he is truly committed to helping those needing transplants, and we are happy that Governor Rauner signed this life-saving legislation.”
“I am thrilled to see this legislation gain such great support and to see it signed into law,” Haine said. “Every minute counts when it comes to tissue and organ donations. This legislation allows for a better process so those who need organ and tissue donations are able to receive them quickly, thereby increasing the likelihood of successful recovery and saving lives.”
The law had no opposition and was strongly supported by the Illinois Funeral Directors Association and Gift of Hope, a federally designated Chicago area organ procurement organization.
The law was chiefly sponsored by state Rep. Dan Brady and Haine. House co-sponsors are Frank Mautino, Dan Beiser, Jay Hoffman, Jerry Costello, John Cavaletto and Patti Bellock. In the Senate, co-sponsors are Sens. Pamela Althoff, James Clayborne, Gary Forby, John Mulroe, Dave Luechtefeld and Kyle McCarter.
The law makes the following improvements to the tissue and organ donation process:
• Better for donors and transplants: This legislation will fix a technical problem with Illinois law. Previous regulations prevented a funeral director or transporter from taking a donor directly to an out-of-state organ and tissue recovery facility. Mid-America Transplant Services has a state-of-the-art facility in St. Louis for organ and tissue donation. However, under the previous law, the donation must have occurred at hospitals in Illinois, which hurt the transplant and donation process and ties up hospital operating rooms.
• Protects funeral directors: The legislation is necessary because an Illinois funeral director or transporter could receive a large fine if they transported a donor across state lines for tissue or organ donation.
• Streamlines the process: This legislation eliminates an unnecessary regulation and paperwork burden.
Since 1974, Mid-America Transplant Services (MTS) has facilitated the organ and tissue donation process for a service area of 4.7 million people in eastern Missouri, southern Illinois and northeast Arkansas. Committed to an innovative approach, MTS is the nation’s first organ procurement organization to use an in-house operating room model for organ recovery and the first to operate license offices to increase community support through donor registry enrollment. Located in St. Louis, MTS is a nonprofit organization and one of 58 federally designated OPOs of its kind.