Wednesday, May 21, 2008

AST Encourages Employers to Adopt Paid Leave Policies for Living Organ Donors via Awareness Campaign Effort

Press release posted on The Earth Times:

MT. LAUREL, N.J. - (Business Wire) The number of living organ donors can be increased if more employers offered paid leave to employees who act as live organ donors. That is the message of the American Society of Transplantation’s (AST) new outreach campaign, which is aimed at corporations, institutions and local/state governments.

“Living individuals who give a kidney or part of a liver to another person are heroes, and their stories are often told publicly. However, what goes unspoken is that potential living donors often cannot donate because of wages lost from work during recovery from surgery,” said Flavio Vincenti, MD, president of the AST.

Paid leave could also help ease the chronic shortage of organs in the U.S., where 3,700 new patients are added to the transplant waiting list each month and 18 die each day awaiting transplantation.

The new outreach campaign is in support of the AST’s Employee Leave and Organ Donation Program, which provides assistance and education to employers in establishing a paid leave program for living organ donation.

Living Donors: An Important Part of Organ Donation

Living donors are responsible for the organs in approximately 50% of kidney transplants, 10% of liver transplants and 2% of lung transplants. There were 6,306 live organ donations in 2007.

The recovery period for organ and tissue donation surgery varies by individual but is generally one week for bone marrow, four weeks for kidney and up to 12 weeks for liver and lung.

AST Program Aims to Boost Paid-Leave Participation

Currently, at least 40 institutions and corporations have paid leave policies for live donors. Twenty-nine states also have policies and many have related legislation pending. The federal government has had a paid leave policy since 1999.

“Paid leave for employees who give the gift of an organ to another person is gaining momentum in the U.S., but the participation of private industry and major institutions is needed to help it grow,” said Dr. Vincenti.

The outreach campaign includes “The Employee Leave and Organ Donation Program,” a new DVD from the AST, which describes how paid employee leave can help with the ongoing organ shortage. The AST will be using the DVD as part of its national outreach to employers and human resource professionals in 2008.

The AST also asks that members of its society, which include physicians, nurses, researchers and pharmacists, lobby their employers to adopt paid leave programs.

The AST provides technical assistance to employers who want to establish a paid leave policy for organ donors. The assistance includes: a sample human resources policy statement; a booklet that describes organ donation and related employee needs; copies of existing state and federal policies; and a news release template to announce the program.

About AST

The American Society of Transplantation is an international organization of transplant professionals dedicated to advancing the field of transplantation through the promotion of research, education, advocacy, and organ donation to improve patient care. The Society comprises more than 2,700 transplant physicians, surgeons and allied health professionals.

For more information about AST, please visit AST Web Site.

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