By Rep. Jose E. Cambrils
As of March 15, 2021, a new federal policy goes into effect that will seriously diminish hope for New Hampshire residents who are on the current “Transplant Wait List.” The federal government’s contracted agency UNOS—which is responsible for deceased donor organ distribution throughout the U.S.—is making a significant policy change which will hurt prospective New Hampshire organ recipients by expanding the “consideration zone” to a 250 nautical mile radius around a donor hospital. This means that most organs harvested in New Hampshire are projected to go to big metropolitan cities in New York, New Jersey and as far away as Philadelphia. Those states with their large populations will now fall within the new zone. These urban areas have very lengthy wait lists with longer wait times—which doesn’t bode well for our NH citizens.
As someone who was on dialysis for almost four years while also on the waitlist for a kidney transplant opportunity, I can state that this new policy is a “punch in the gut” to NH residents. I was blessed to have received a life-saving kidney transplant in February of 2020, just before COVID shut things down. But, if I were still on the waitlist when this new UNOS policy went into effect, I’d no longer have any reasonable expectation of getting a new kidney, and I likely would have remained on dialysis or died within a few years. It should be noted that for every year a patient is on dialysis, there is a cumulative 7% increase in the probability that they will die while waiting for a transplant.
Consequently, I introduced House Bill 583 in our House of Representatives where it is currently making its way through a Transportation Committee review. HB583 would allow registered NH drivers that sign up to be organ donors the ability to direct their donations to local residents first. We have a long tradition of “neighbor helping neighbor” in this great state. Our driver licenses are legal documents that citizens should be able to use to designate where they’d prefer their organs be utilized. A New Hampshire first policy should be an option. Then, if any organs could not be matched with a Granite State recipient, the organs would go to the next closest state with a matching patient.
I sincerely hope that my fellow legislators will see fit to move HB583 forward so that Governor Sununu can review it and hopefully sign off on it. If we turn this critically important bill into law, NH will once again be “first in the nation” in ensuring that “neighbors” get the first opportunities to receive these gifts of life from fellow Granite Staters. Please let your Representatives know that you support this bill, and help out your NH friends and families in need of an organ.
UPDATE: HB583 was retained for the next session. In October of 2021, the House Transportation Committee recommended 19-0 that the bill be passed.
Then on January 5, 2022 it passed the full NH House with a unanimous 353 – 0 voice vote. It is now in the hands of the NH Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
I sincerely hope the Senate will see fit to move HB583 forward so that Governor Sununu can review it and hopefully sign it into law. This critical life-saving Bill will restore the only hope that our transplant list citizens will have. If we turn this bill into law, NH will once again be “first in the nation” in ensuring that “neighbors” get the first opportunities to receive these gifts of life from fellow Granite Staters. Please let the Senate know that you support HB 583, and help out your NH friends and families in need of an organ.
Loudon’s Jose’ Eduardo Cambrils is a state representative for Merrimack County District 9 which includes Canterbury and Loudon. Jose is a refugee from communist Cuba and a retired BAE engineer.