By Wendy Osher
Maui lawmaker, Rep. Kaniela Ing introduced a bill that aims to increase organ and tissue donor awareness by requiring the information is included in Driver’s Education course material.
Rep. Ing, who is serving his first term as the House Representative for constituents in Kihei, Wailea, and Makena, said, “I introduced this creative and cost-free bill to increase public awareness and encourage more young people to consider being an organ donor.”
He further explained, “growing up, I had preconceived reservations about organ donation from common urban myths. However, when my father passed, he donated eye tissue that granted someone the gift of sight.”
After witnessing stories of recipients and their families at a Legacy of Life luncheon, Rep. Ing said he came to realize the vital importance of organ donation.
“Community Outreach education is needed to clear up misconceptions about the process and highlight the importance of being able to save lives by simply checking a box. Young driver’s license applicants can then make informed decisions,” he said.
If approved, the bill would amend section 286-108.4 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes to require drivers education programs to “include the distribution of information on organ and tissue donation and the possibility of saving lives through organ and tissue donation.”
Rep. Ing cited supporting statistics from Donate Life Hawai’i, saying 42.4% of all Hawai’i residents age 18 and over are currently enrolled in state donor registries. According to the information provided, an average of 17 people die each day from the lack of available organs for transplant, while one donor can enhance more than 40 different lives.
Similar programs have been initiated in 15 other states in recent years in an effort to increase registered donor numbers.