Organ Donation Cards Sent With Tax Refunds

 In a bid to prompt more people to pledge organ donations, authorities will send 70 million U.S. households organ donor cards tucked in the envelope along with their tax return this year.
“This will save lives and improve the quality of lives,” Sen. Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican who was a heart and lung transplant surgeon before going into politics, told a news conference Monday. Frist was a member of a bipartisan coalition that set up the one-time program, which starts this week and runs through June.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat who helped create the program, said he had come up with the idea after seeing promotional materials for Olympic commemorative coins in earlier tax mailings.

“This year, when families receive their tax refunds, we want them to discuss not only how to spend their checks but also how to save lives,” Dorgan said.

The mailings will be accompanied by a public education campaign aimed at encouraging people to talk with their loved ones about organ donation so they know what to do in the case of an unexpected death in the family.

Basketball star Michael Jordan is appearing in television ads, as are ordinary Americans who had to face these decisions and now wish they had discussed them earlier. One of those families, Fred and Lola Lipscomb, said deciding to donate the organs of their teen-age son Fred when he was killed in a car crash had helped them start the process of healing. “He has given an incredible gift to three families,” the father told the news conference. “All three men were fathers. They lived to see their children grow up.”

Around 50,000 Americans are on waiting lists for organ transplants and hundreds of thousands more need tissue transplants. Some will undoubtedly die waiting.

Donated organs include heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines. Tissue include eyes, skin, bone, heart valves, veins and tendons. One person can help 50 others.

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