– Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) participated in a recent webinar for legislators and others hosted by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) that focused on how COVID-19 is impacting kidney patients in Pennsylvania. Toohil is a living kidney donor for her mother.
During her presentation, Toohil discussed House Bill 924
, legislation she is sponsoring that would encourage more Pennsylvania residents to become organ donors by ensuring they do not face economic roadblocks when making the decision.
“This piece of legislation prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against people based on their status as an organ donor and provides family leave for individuals who donate their organs to save others,” Toohil said. “We’re hoping that before the end of this term, we’ll be able to move this legislation and have Pennsylvania be one of the states with these protections.”
The so-called Living Donor Protection Act would also direct the secretary of Health to develop and distribute informational materials about the benefits of organ donation. The measure passed unanimously in the House of Representatives last year and is now under consideration in the Senate.
The webinar discussion was led by Dr. Paul Palevsky, a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine professor and NKF president-elect. He said nearly 29,000 kidney transplants have occurred in Pennsylvania since 1988, including 1,204 transplants during 2019. Palevsky added that 211 patients died while waiting for a new kidney last year.
Palevsky also told webinar participants that COVID-19 has presented new challenges for the state’s nearly 19,000 kidney dialysis patients. He said almost 1,000 of those patients have contracted the virus to date, while another 124 patients have died of COVID-19.
“The biggest concern the patients have is they are going to get infected, especially if they are being transported in a shared van,” said Palevsky. “Patients understand that if they get infected, there is increased risk of complications.”
Participants were encouraged to push for enactment of House Bill 924, engage in kidney patient support and share information about the foundation.
Representative Tarah Toohil
116th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office