DENVER (CBS4) – Gov. John Hickenlooper held had a ceremonial signing Wednesday for a new law that could potentially save lives.
The passing makes Colorado one of the first states to subsidize paid leave for living organ donors.
According to Donate Life Colorado, the state currently has more than 2,500 people waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.
Trent Thompson is one of them.
“I knew I had maybe a shorter lifespan than what others have,” Thompson said.
More than 10 years ago, doctors diagnosed him with a liver disease called PSC.
“Primary Scherlosing Cholangitis. The ultimate prognosis for that is transplant,” he said.
In the last month, his liver disease progressed. He is now on the waiting list, but finding a donor can often take years.
“When you get to the point where you move from middle stage to end stage liver disease a lot of things happen,” he said.
Another option for Thompson is a live donor.
He initially ruled it out, but family and friends convinced him that it might be the best option.
He decided to write a letter asking for help.
”What I am asking for is selfish. It is downright greedy, but I promised some people whom I love dearly that I would do it. I need a liver,” he read from the letter he wrote.
While every surgery comes with risk, one of the biggest hurdles for a potential live donor has little to do with the actual procedure, it’s the time spent away from work.
“One of the only costs associated with live liver donation is loss of wages for employment time that you are not able to be at work,” he said.
Colorado lawmakers decided to change that passing a bill that by 2020 would give live donors 10 days of paid time off.
“The fact that this legislation was passed is just that one more obstacle that we don’t have to think about as much,” Thompson said holding back tears.
Even if it is not his own, he knows the change could potentially save lives.
For him, hope comes from his letter… a letter he was not sure he would even write.
“It really did reaffirm my faith in humanity because there were a lot of folks… a lot of folks came forward,” Thompson said.
If you are interested in living donation and/or becoming a donor for Trent, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.