SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois became the first state in the country to allow organ donations by people who are HIV positive today when Governor Rod R. Blagojevich signed House Bill 3857.
The new law, sponsored by state Rep. Larry McKeon, D-Chicago, allows the organs of an HIV-positive donor to be transplanted into others who are also infected with the disease. It takes effect immediately.
“Today I am signing landmark legislation that we believe will enable people with HIV to live longer, healthier, more productive lives,” said Governor Blagojevich. “As we learn more about HIV and AIDS, and the medications used to manage the disease, we need to be willing to explore new ways to treat and care for those with the devastating illness.”
While there are other states that have begun to look into organ transplants from HIV-positive donors, Illinois is the first to make it legal.
Like many other states, Illinois previously required the destruction of organs infected with HIV. The new law will provide an expanded base of available organs and allow people with HIV/AIDS to qualify for transplants with organs from HIV-infected donors.
“This law will provide a safe and effective approach for expanding the organ donor pool and allow patients with HIV to receive organs that would ordinarily be discarded. In addition to allowing HIV-positive patients to be transplanted sooner, this amendment would free up non-HIV-positive organs for other patients. It just makes social and scientific sense, and I applaud the governor for signing it into law,” said Dr. Patrick Lynch, a hepatologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital who testified before the state Senate in support of the legislation.
Rep. McKeon applauded the governor for signing HB 3857. “This historic legislation will not only save lives but prolong those lives as well,” he said. “I commend Governor Blagojevich for his assistance in making this legislation law. It’s the first of its kind in the nation and I anticipate that many states will use this legislation as a model.”
The state has recorded a total of 31,082 cases of AIDS since 1981 and, of those diagnosed with the disease, 16,725, or 54 percent have died. Another 11,938 Illinoisans have tested positive for HIV since July 1, 1999, when the reporting of HIV-positive cases became mandatory. Of those, 97 percent are living today.
“My administration remains committed to assisting those with HIV/AIDS. Organ transplants will now become another weapon in our war against this disease,” said Governor Blagojevich said.