Villalba Files Bill to Save the Lives of Organ Recipients

February 17, 2017

Rep. Villalba files bill to provide greater and more efficient access to organs in Texas

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Today, Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) filed HB 1938, which will amend the current method of identifying as an organ donor on a Texas driver’s license. HB 1938 would provide that those Texas citizens who seek to donate their organs upon death to an organ recipient may do so by applying for or renewing a valid current Texas driver’s license. If the applicant wishes to opt out of the organ donation protocol, the applicant must simply check a single box indicating that the applicant would prefer to not donate their organs to needy Texas recipients. Under current Texas law, the applicant would “opt-in” to become an organ donor. Under HB 1938, the applicant would instead “opt-out” if they do not want to donate their organs.

HB 1938 will only apply to people who are over the age of eighteen years old and will not impact any current Texas driver’s license holder. The new law will ONLY affect those applying for a license for the first time or who are renewing an existing license.

Representative Villalba’s bill mirrors systems currently in place in many parts of Europe, where, because of such changes, access to organs has been significantly increased. In the U.S., only 26 donors exist per million people. It is clear that our national need is much greater than the number of American organ donors. With 121,678 people in the United States waiting for lifesaving organ transplants, Representative Villalba believes HB 1938 will increase organ availability to those hoping for a second chance. According to a study by the United Kingdom Organ Donation Taskforce, some countries that adopted an opt-out system saw donation rates increase by up to 30%.

Dr. Shelley Hall, Chief of Transplant Cardiology and Mechanical Support/Heart Failure at Baylor University Medical Center, said “While Texas has seen its greatest rise in donors this past year, we still have a long way to go. Too many people die on the waiting list every day for lack of suitable donors. I believe this is a positive step towards narrowing the gap.”

Representative Villalba said, “Every year, all across Texas, we watch our fellow Texans succumb to heart, liver, kidney and lung disease because there are not enough viable organs available for transplant. We hope to change that. If we pass this bill, we will save thousands of lives. Now is the time to act.”

Representative Villalba aims to increase the number of organs available to recipients with the bill, as well as remove the negative stigma from identifying as an organ donor. The Mayo Clinic estimates that 21 Americans on the organ donation waiting list die each day. Representative Villalba believes implementing an opt-out system for organ donation in Texas will shorten the waiting list in Texas and save lives daily. Likewise, Representative Villalba knows that dialysis, a common medical procedure utilized by people needing kidneys, costs five times more per year than a single kidney transplant. If more kidneys were available, Texas could significantly lower its medical expenses for those on subsidized healthcare.

Representative Jason Villalba represents Lake Highlands, Preston Hollow and North West Dallas in the Texas House of Representatives. Rep. Villalba, a graduate of Baylor University and the University of Texas School of Law, was first elected to House District 114 in November of 2012. He is a proud, fourth-generation Texan and the first in his family to attend college. Prior to attending law school and becoming a partner in a major Texas law firm, Rep. Villalba held the positions of financial analyst and economist for a Fortune 500 Company located in Dallas.