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January 24, 2001

Ryan Announces Walgreens Donation to Assist Transplant Recipients

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced a donation of up to $100,000 by Walgreens to provide initial funding for a new state program to assist organ transplant recipients. The program will assist those who do not have adequate insurance coverage or who are not eligible for other government assistance with paying for drugs and other costs associated with post transplant maintenance and retention.

"I want to express my appreciation to Walgreens for this generous gift to help us get the program off the ground," Ryan said. "I have been a staunch advocate of organ donation for many years and I strongly believe we must provide financial help to transplant patients who are unable to afford essential medications and other costs."

Walgreens has pledged to hold a promotion during the month of January for its brand of vitamins and to donate a portion of the sales -- up to $100,000 -- to the special transplant fund. In addition, Walgreens has pledged to stress the importance of organ donation to the company's more than 100,000 employees nationwide.

Governor Ryan has been a strong advocate of organ donation throughout his career. In 1992, while serving as Secretary of State, Ryan implemented the "Life Goes On" initiative to educate the public about the desperate need for organ and tissue donations. At that time, Illinois became the third state to implement an Organ/Tissue Donor registry. Ryan designed the program to utilize existing state databases at no additional cost to taxpayers. Because of this effort, Illinois has the largest state registry in the nation.

Under PA 91-873 legislation sponsored by Rep. David Wirsing (R-Sycamore) and signed by the Governor last year, a Post Transplant Maintenance and Retention Fund was established to accept private sector donations and state funding. Walgreens is the first from the private sector to donate and Governor Ryan has pledged to include money for the program in his fiscal year 2002 budget request.

To be eligible for financial assistance, a transplant recipient must have been an Illinois resident for at least 12 months and have a monthly income at or below 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Payments made by the program will be for costs not reimbursed or eligible for reimbursement by an insurance company, Medicaid, Medicare or other government program. The program, which will be administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health, is scheduled to begin July 1.


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