HIV Organ Policy Equity Actby Representative Michael C. Burgess
Posted on 2013-11-12
BURGESS. I thank the chairman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, this bill before us tonight is a commonsense policy that will remove some barriers in the law and ensure that patients who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses can access vital treatments. We have heard the numbers discussed tonight--over 100,000 patients currently awaiting life-saving organs. That number grows by thousands every year, coupled with the fact that our current organ donation policies are outdated and do not reflect the most current research in clinical developments.
The bill before us tonight corrects this, allowing organs from HIV- positive donors to be transplanted into HIV-positive recipients. This has the potential to save over 1,000 HIV-infected patients every year with liver and kidney failure.
Allowing these HIV positive donations increases the organs available to HIV-positive recipients. More importantly, it actually grows the overall pool of organs that will be available.
Furthermore, transplant surgeons already have experience with the transplantation of infected organs. Today, surgeons perform organ transplants on patients who are infected with hepatitis C, a disease with similar transmission methods as HIV.
I would reassure my colleagues, I have taken the time to speak with transplant surgeons for the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, and I have spoken with doctors at the National Institutes of Health. This does not pose an increased health risk for the already HIV- infected patient from an organ donated by an HIV-positive donor, but it will provide the potential for increasing the number of organs available for transplant. Anybody who works in transplant surgery knows this is the number one issue that they face on a day-to-day basis.
This legislation is sound, science-based policy. It is also good fiscal policy. It increases the options for safe transplantation, eliminating the need for patients to receive costly recurring treatments, and instead allows patients to receive viable organs to live fuller, more productive lives.
I urge my colleagues to vote in support of this life-saving bill.