TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey lawmaker wants to incentivize people to become organ donors by offering tax credits in return.
While the idea is to save more lives, critics say the plan could do more harm than good.
If a donor had been found for Mary McDonald’s husband she thinks he would still be alive today. Instead, John McDonald died four years ago.
“If you do not give these organs, you can not save people’s lives whether it be heart, lung, or kidney,” Mary tells CBS2. “I think this country should do more about that.”
About 120,000 people a year are waiting for an organ in the United States according to the non-profit group Donate Life America.
That’s why McDonald says she supports proposed legislation that would give New Jersey residents a one time $1,000 tax credit for donating part of a liver, part of a lung, or a kidney.
Senator Gerald Cardinale introduced the bill.
“There are people who give organs or tissue donations while still alive and they could get a tax credit on their state income tax,” the Republican state lawmaker said. “It isn’t a tremendous amount of money, but it is something.”
Under the proposed legislation, a deceased donor’s tax credit would go to the estate. In addition, anyone who donates blood would receive a one time $100 tax credit.
Cardinale says he’s been met with varying degrees of skepticism.
Some donor groups worry that organ tax breaks would prey on people desperate to make money. Kevin Longino with the National Kidney Foundation says his group vehemently appose the proposed legislation.
“We think having people paid or getting reimbursement creates an adverse effect,” Longino said. “There’s a lot of ways to have expenses reimbursed. We’d like to see that done instead of an outright paying or pricing system.”
It also violates a federal law making it illegal to profit from organ donation.
“I don’t think the federal law was meant to stop medical progress,” Cardinale said.
The proposed law still has to pass both houses of the New Jersey legislature and be signed by the governor.
Statistics show one donor can save up to eight lives. Only 34 percent of New Jersey residents are currently registered as organ donors — the lowest rate in the country.