Senate approves judicial authorization of anatomical gifts

Mike Seals - March 2, 2021 10:06 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – Among the many bills stopped during the shortened 2020 legislative session was one to help potentially save lives by providing judicial authorization of certain anatomical gifts. Altus Republican Brent Howard reintroduced his legislation this session, which received approval Tuesday by the Senate.

Senate Bill 170 authorizes courts, once they have approved removing a child under the custody of the Department of Human Services (DHS) from life support or have denied cardiopulmonary resuscitation, to allow anatomical gifts to be procured from the child.

“There are currently nearly 2,000 children nationwide under the age of 18 on the national transplant waiting list along with more than 100,000 adults. This bill would allow courts to authorize donating the organs of children who pass away while in state custody,” Howard said. “While this is a tragic scenario, these children’s organs can help save so many other lives. We can honor their memories by ensuring other Oklahomans live.”

Howard said the bill was requested by a judge in his district who had to rule to turn off a child’s ventilator at the recommendation of a physician. The judge said that the difficult situation was made worse by fact he didn’t feel he had the power to agree to the donation of the child’s organs.

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), one donor can save eight lives through the donation of the eyes, kidneys, lungs, intestines, liver, tissue, heart and pancreas. One tissue donor (bone, tendons, cartilage, connective tissue, skin, corneas, sclera, heart valves and vessels) can impact the lives of as many as 75 people.

“Seventeen people die every day in the U.S. waiting for an organ to become available, and someone is added to the transplant waiting list every nine minutes,” Howard said. “Given the fact that only three in 1,000 people’s organs are viable for transplant and only 60% of Americans are actually signed up to be donors, this is truly a matter of life and death for so many Oklahomans. I urge my colleagues to join in helping use these young lives that are cut tragically short for a greater good—to help others lives full, healthy lives.”

Rep. Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City, is the House author of SB 170, which now goes to the House for further consideration.

Oklahomans interested in being an organ donor can register at

For more information, contact:  Sen. Howard: (405) 521-5612 or [email protected]


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