History of the Nevada Organ Donor Program

Nevada Organ Donor Program

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The Legislature passed AB 497 in 2001 that created a program that was tasked with working with the DMV to create and maintain an accurate list of individuals who have pledged to be organ donors and to provide support and education to increase the number of organ donors in the state. This program was previously funded by grants and fundraisers and is currently funded by license plate sales and donations (the Gift of Life fund). The program was originally run by a task force headed by Frankie Sue Del Papa, former Attorney General and former Nevada First Lady, Dawn Gibbons. The task force currently is advisory only as the program was moved to the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine by Legislation in 2005 (AB 234). This move was prompted by the change in Attorney Generals and the need to find a good home for the organ donor program.

The Nevada organ donor program was established at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine in 2006 with partial support by a public health grant that funded a part time administrator (Cassandra Smith, RN) and paid for computers and office set up for two years while running an initiative to increase the number of donors in the African American population. The Gift of Life fund at the State has grown with continued income from the license plate renewals. Currently the program fund covers the donor registry, online forms when needed for the registry, educational materials, part-time administrator, DMV brochures, media campaigns, website, etc. The last major media campaign leveraged matching funds to produce a PSA that was widely distributed in Northern and Southern Nevada.

The organ donor program at the School of Medicine is under the Dean and is administered by a liaison, Trudy Larson, M.D. and the administrator, Cassandra Smith, RN. The organ donor task force has become an advisory committee and is used by the Dean (and/or liaison) for advice and support. It no longer functions as a decision making committee since its move to the School of Medicine.