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CNN Today

New Federal Rules on Organ Transplants Take Effect

Aired March 16, 2000 - 2:26 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, as of today, a new set of federal rules takes effect, aimed at reducing the number of people who die while awaiting a liver transplant. The rules will allow donated livers to be transported longer distances. As before, livers will go to the sickest people first within geographical regions. Similar new rules for other types of organs may follow.

This potential improvement aside, the biggest roadblock to life- saving transplants remains.

As CNN's Pat Etheridge reports, there simply aren't enough donors.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAT ETHERIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Seven-year-old Nicholas Green was murdered in 1994 during a robbery while vacationing in Italy with his family. His parents say their decision to donate his organs was never in question.

REG GREEN, ORGAN DONOR'S FATHER: It was so clear that his future had been taken away from him and that future could be given to someone else.

ETHERIDGE: The Greens' generosity generated headlines around the world and set into motion a stunning increase in organ donations.

GREEN: Literally, thousands of people are living there now, who would have died.

ETHERIDGE: That message hits home for Petty White and her 10- year-old son. As a baby, Ben received a liver from a child who died in an accident. The operation saved his life.

PETTY WHITE, ORGAN DONOR'S MOTHER: It was the first time in his life that he had pink cheeks. And that's how quickly the liver transplant worked. It was instantaneous.

ETHERIDGE: The family has since joined the First Family campaign, a national effort to help parents and children discuss and explore organ donation possibilities.

Here are some of the little-known facts. The best way to insure that your organs are donated is by explaining your wishes ahead of time to your family; notations on a driver's license or will may be overlooked during a crisis. Organ recovery takes place only after all efforts to save a person's life have been exhausted. Donation does not disfigure the body. Donation costs nothing to the donor's family or estate.

The legacy of Nicholas Green and the life of Benjamin Cleveland (ph) speak volumes...

BENJAMIN CLEVELAND, ORGAN DONOR RECEIVER: If you do, then someone else can live a life -- a good, happy life, like I am right now.

ETHERIDGE: ... in a world where there is still a critical shortage of organ donors.

Pat Etheridge, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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