With thousands of people throughout the United States waiting on life-saving bone marrow and organ transplants, Assemblywomen Carol Murphy and Pamela Lampitt have sponsored legislation to help encourage donations through tax and work-related benefits. The legislation, named “Lindsay’s Law” in honor of Pine Hill resident and kidney donor Lindsay Clark, was signed into law Tuesday.
Each year, nearly 18,000 Americans are diagnosed with a deadly illness that requires a bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. At any given moment, nearly 114,000 people throughout the United States are on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ transplant.
Although many of those patients require organs that must come from a deceased donor, thousands of lives can be saved by a living donor’s kidney or part of their liver, lung, intestine or marrow.
The law (formerly bill A-6075) will allow organ and bone marrow donors to deduct up to $10,000 from their gross income for tax purposes, in the amount they or their dependent were not reimbursed for travel expenses, lodging and lost wages related to their donation.
“Donating an organ or bone marrow can be costly for some donors who may have to travel to a hospital far away in order to help an ill patient who is unable to travel, themselves,” said Murphy (D-Burlington). “By allowing taxpayers to deduct unreimbursed expenses, we can encourage more people to donate who would not otherwise have the financial means to do so. This is one way we can help fill a desperate need for donors, to help prevent unnecessary loss of life.”
The law also addresses a donor’s absence from their job during the recovery process, since bone marrow donors can take up to a week to recover while kidney donors may need four to six weeks to recover from their procedures.
Any donor who works at the state and local level – including school, county and municipal employees – can receive up to 30 days of paid leave for organ donation and five days of paid leave for bone marrow donation.
As for non-governmental employees, private employers will be incentivized via a compensatory tax credit – applicable only if they provided the employee with paid leave during the recovery process.
“For some potential donors, it simply isn’t practical or even possible for them to take time off from work without a guarantee of financial compensation as they recover from the painful procedure,” said Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). “By incentivizing or mandating paid time off for New Jersey employees who become living donors, we are providing a greater number of people with the means necessary to help save someone else’s life.”