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Organ Donor Bill Passes Committee Following Flight Nurse Testimony

By Makenzie O'Keefe

DENVER (CBS4) - On Monday, Colorado lawmakers heard from people who are alive today because of living organ donation and are pushing for the Colorado Living Donor Support Act.

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(credit: CBS)

A proposed bill was introduced to provide paid time off to living donors who share a kidney or a part of their liver. That bill passed the House Finance Committee Monday evening with a final vote of 8 to three.

Right now, there is hardship for some who wish to give a life changing piece of themselves.

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

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Dave Repsher (L) and Matt Martinez (R) (credit: CBS)

Among those testifying in a committee hearing will be injured flight nurse Dave Repsher alongside the man who gave him a kidney, Matt Martinez.

"The ultimate goal is just to make it easier for someone to receive a transplant," said Martinez.

Repsher was burned over 90 percent of his body in a Flight For Life crash in Frisco in July of 2015.

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Flight for Life helicopter crash in 2015. (credit: CBS)

After a year of medical hardships, the antibiotics that saved him also damaged his kidneys, leaving him on dialysis five days a week until a donor stepped forward.

Dave Repsher and Matt Martinez
Dave Repsher and Matt Martinez (credit: CBS)

Martinez's kidney was a match and even though he barely knew Repsher, the single father wanted to donate his kidney if it meant saving a life.

"It's incredible," said Repsher. "When you're sitting there sick hoping that someone answers the call... It's opened up our live tremendously, it's enabled my recovery to happen that much faster."

In 2017, there were nearly 2,400 Coloradans on the wait list for an organ donation and only 160 living donors in the state. Another hurdle is the fact that Coloradans can only take up to 2 days paid leave specifically for organ donation.

organ donor bill
(credit: CBS)

The "Living Donor Support Act" would create the ability for donors to have up to 10 days of paid time off to recover and would give incentives to employers for providing it.

The American Transplant Foundation says the bill has more hurdles to clear but called Monday night a huge first step.

RELATED: Record Settlement Reached In Helicopter Crash

The hearing began Monday afternoon, and Repsher testified at around 5 p.m.

Makenzie O'Keefe joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2017. Read her bio, follow her on Twitter at @makenziepokeefe or email her your story ideas.

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