Letter: Protect Live Donors Now

Last year, I donated my left kidney in an eight-person transplant chain. My employer, Los Angeles County, was not subject to California Labor Code section 1510, which requires private employers with 15 employees or more to support and protect their employee living organ and bone marrow donors by providing job protection, paid leave and maintenance of employee provided health insurance. The purpose of Labor Code section 1510, passed in 2010, was to increase living organs and bone marrow available for transplant by removing the financial disincentives to donation. It is inexplicable that California exempted California public employers from the mandates of this statute.

However, for over 10 years, the California Public Employer lobby has successfully advocated against ensuring public employers are not subject to Labor Code section 1510. For 10 years, no California legislator has had the mettle to introduce and fight to pass legislation that will increase the number of organs and bone marrow available. This failure to act has continued despite the fact thousands have died during this time while waiting for transplants.

In June 2019, I submitted a bill proposal to my assembly member, Richard Bloom. My proposed legislation would require all California public employers support and protect their employee living organ and bone marrow donors pursuant to Labor Code 1510. Last month, Assemblyman Bloom’s office contacted me expressing interest in my bill proposal. 

When I recently followed up with Assemblymember Bloom’s office, I was disappointed and saddened when I was informed that Assemblymember Bloom would not be moving forward with my bill proposal. The reason I was given was the “limited” number of bill proposals that his office would move forward on in 2020. 

I believe saving lives by increasing the availability of living organs is an urgent public health and legislative priority when currently there are over 23,000 Californians waiting for life saving transplants; and in 2019, nine hundred thirty six (936) Californians died and 735 became too sick to receive a transplant while they were on the OPTN waiting list. 

Please contact Assemblymember Bloom’s office before Jan. 24, 2020, at (916) 319-2050 or (310) 319-2050, and ask him to support living organ and bone marrow donation by moving forward on my bill proposal.

Melinda McCauley Gwyn

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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