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State Bill Would Give Living Organ Donors Paid Time Off

By Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4) - In Colorado, 2,433 people are waiting for an organ transplant. Of those, 1,792 need a kidney, an organ that can be donated by a living person.

Now, state lawmakers are considering a bill to make living donations a little easier. It's called the Colorado Living Donor Support Act. It would provide paid time off to kidney and liver living donors.

The hope is without the financial hardship, more people would be willing to donate.

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CBS4's Kathy Walsh interviews Jim Eastman (L) and Scott La Point (R). (credit: CBS)

"He's my hero, he really is," said Jim Eastman of Niwot.

He and Scott La Point are not related, but they've bonded like brothers. La Point saved Eastman's life.

"I knew that I was called to help my neighbor," said La Point, a 54-year-old father of three from Loveland.

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(credit: CBS)

An autoimmune disease caused Eastman's kidneys to fail. At age 67, daily dialysis was keeping him alive.

"I didn't want to die on dialysis, so I needed to find a living donor," he told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

Friends and family launched a campaign for a kidney.

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(credit: La Point family)

"It was the sign on my wife's car that attracted Scott," explained Eastman.

The two men were acquaintances. Both had survived traumatic brain injuries. La Point offered Eastman a kidney and passed the qualifying tests. Transplant surgery was June 29, 2017.

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(credit: La Point family)

"I'm blessed that I was able to help Jim," said La Point.

Luckily, La Point got a little help, too. The American Transplant Foundation gave him a $1,000 toward his mortgage during his recovery.

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(credit: La Point family)

"Knowing that I had that $1,000 cushion allowed me not to worry," said La Point.

"It can be a deterrent," said Eastman.

That's why Colorado lawmakers are considering a bill to give living donors 10 days paid time off.

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(credit: La Point family)

Employers would be entitled to a tax credit of 35 percent of the employee's regular salary for up to 10 business days. Only those who make less than $80,000 a year would be eligible.

"It's one less hoop to jump through," said La Point.

"Let's make this as easy as possible," said Eastman.

The hope is financial support would remove an enormous barrier for living donors and help save many lives.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4's Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 since 1984. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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