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States Revising Organ-Donation Law

State legislatures are rewriting legislation governing organ donations in one of the most ambitious initiatives in at least 20 years to alleviate the chronic shortage of kidneys, livers and other body parts, an effort that some doctors and ethicists fear tilts too far toward allowing organs to be taken.

Virginia, Idaho, Utah and South Dakota have already adopted a model law designed to make organ donation easier by clarifying a host of sensitive questions. An especially tricky one is how to handle unconscious patients who signed donor cards but also specified that they did not want to be kept alive on life-support. Another one is what doctors should do when the family of a dying person who agreed to be a donor objects to surgeons taking their loved one's organs.

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