New bill will give veterans who need organ transplants more options

In this FILE photo a look at a Veterans Clinic in the United States.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Veterans will have more options when seeking organ transplants under a new bill passed by the U.S. House this week.

When an organ becomes available for a recipient, time is crucial.

“Getting there in two hours is better than getting there in three, is better than getting there in four,” said Rep. Neal Dunn of Florida.

The congressman says VA doctors perform transplants for veterans at 14 hospitals across the country and each location handles specific surgeries.

In Nashville, veterans get bone marrow, heart, kidney and liver transplants, but not lung transplants.

“According to the current regulations, a vet would have to travel sometimes 1,000 miles to a VA-certified transplant center,” said Rep. Clay Higgins of Louisiana.

Higgins and Dunn were a part of group lawmakers that pushed a bill that would allow veterans to use non-VA transplant facilities closer to their home.

They say it will boost the chances of veterans receiving organs and improve the outcomes after surgery.

The bill was passed by the House this week.

“We owe it to the veterans to take good care of them and give them good medical care, not just some medical care,” Dunn said.

Supporters are now trying to find a sponsor in the Senate with the aim of having the bill on the president’s desk before the end of the year.

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