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UK alum fights for organ, bone marrow donation paid leave incentives

WKYT News at 6:00 PM sunday CW
Published: Jan. 23, 2022 at 12:00 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - A new bill could help encourage more Kentuckians to be organ and bone marrow donors.

House Bill 47 gives employers a tax credit if they offer their employees separate paid leave during their donation procedure and recovery.

This follows previous legislation organ donor and UK Softball alumna Beth Burbridge has been advocating for the past couple of years.

She said this bipartisan bill would have a ripple effect across the state.

“There are over 1,000 people right now in Kentucky waiting on an organ every single day,” she said.

Last year, Burbridge shared her organ donation story with us.

“It was about this time three years ago I was going through Facebook before work...and ran across a neighbor’s post,” she said. “Their son was dying of a rare kidney disease and because of the genetic component of the disease, they weren’t able to help him.”

She decided to go through testing and discovered she was a match.

“In one short morning, I was able to completely change the life of their family, unfortunately, I had to return to work after six days,” Burbridge said.

She said the recommended recovery time is four to six weeks. Her short time off is the reason why she’s advocating for HB 47.

“I can see a lot of smaller companies thinking, this is something we’d love to offer, but how can we afford it? This tax credit reimburses the cost of the employee’s salary, as well as any replacement they would need to hire... at the time that they’re out,” she said.

Burbridge said if employees have time to fully recover, they’ll return to work refreshed and more productive. She said it’s an incentive to save lives.

“My recipient was able to go back to work, he’s working fulltime, he was able to take a promotion in another state, and is doing incredibly well,” she said.

On Tuesday, Jan. 25 at 1p.m., a group of Kentucky transplant recipients, donors, including Burbridge, and doctors will meet for an open online forum. There, lawmakers and taxpayers can listen and ask questions about the process and the legislation.

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