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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 17, 2004

UI Law Professor To Update National Organ Donation Law

University of Iowa law professor Sheldon Kurtz will help the Commissioners on Uniform State Laws draft a revised law that state legislatures can use to regulate human organ donations for transplant.

Kurtz, an expert on anatomical gift and organ donation law, will serve as the reporter, converting the commission's ideas into a proposed statute that can be submitted to state legislatures.

"The Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act has been in place in its current form since 1987, so we thought this was an appropriate time to revise it taking into account all the changes that have occurred in health care in nearly 20 years," said Kurtz, the Percy Bordwell Professor of Law.

Although any draft is considered only a model that the 50 state legislatures use to write their own statutes, legislatures have in the past typically left the model largely untouched and passed it as their own law.

The Commission on Uniform State Laws will formally begin its work in December and hopes to have a model statute sent to the states by 2007. In the meantime, the drafting committee will meet with dozens of professional and interest groups for their input and to determine what issues the new statute needs to address.

Kurtz has frequently worked with the probate committee of the Iowa Bar in drafting legislative reform proposals. He has worked with other groups on reform of the Iowa Anatomical Gift Act and is a member of American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics. In addition to being a reporter for this project, he is also a commissioner on Uniform State Laws for the State of Iowa since 1999.

The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, first passed in 1967, is one of the uniform acts that attempt to harmonize the law in force in the 50 U.S. states. The law governs organ donations for the purpose of transplantation, and it also governs the making of anatomical gifts of cadavers to be dissected in the study of medicine. The law prescribes the forms by which such gifts can be made and also states who can donate organs if the patient failed to sign an organ donation card

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,