2005 Legislative Compendium: Transplantation/Organ Donation

Organ Donor Registry Bill Passed   |   Presumed Consent for Corneas Eliminated  

Organ Donor Registry Bill Passed

HB 120 by Rep. Glenda Dawson (R-Pearland) and Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) creates the DEAR Program (Donor Education, Awareness, and Registry Program). The newly created program will reside in the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and will be overseen by the Texas Eye, Organ, and Tissue Donor Council. Council members include one representative from each of the states' three federal quality organ provider organizations; one representative who is a transplantation physician or nurse; one representative of an acute care hospital; and two public members who must be a donor, or recipients, or members of a donor's family. DSHS will make appointments to the council. The council will oversee the registry as well as donor education for Texas. The donor designation will go back on the driver license. The intent at this time is for the Texas Department of Public Safety computers to be configured so that if the individual is not asked to be a donor or doesn't want to make a decision when renewing her license, the field will be left blank, instead of defaulting to "No." The program is funded by the voluntary $1 contribution Texans can make when renewing their driver license. Beginning in 2006, Texans will be able to donate when they renew their automobile tags.

Presumed Consent for Corneas Eliminated

HB 1544 by Rep. Dawson and Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) eliminates a law allowing corneas to be taken without consent in medical examiner cases. This law was enacted more than 20 years ago when there was a shortage of corneas for transplantation. However, while there is still a severe shortage of organs, most individuals in the United States needing a cornea transplant can receive one in a timely manner. Beginning in 2005, Federal Drug Administration regulations require a medical/social history for not just organ donors, but for all tissue donors, thus making the prior law moot.

The original bill did not include penalties for failure to comply with the law; however, the final version does allow for civil penalties to be assessed, up to $500 for each violation.

Transplantation/Organ Donation TMA Staff Contacts:  

  • Hilary Dennis, Legislative Affairs, (512) 370-1370
  • Laurie Reece, executive director, Texas Transplantation Society, (512) 370-1522
  • Barbara James, RN, director, Science and Quality, (512) 370-1400 

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Last Updated On

April 02, 2012

Originally Published On

March 23, 2010