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Maryland House passes bills on organ transplants, sponsored by speaker who was saved by a liver transplant

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel).
House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel). (Thalia Juarez / Capital Gazette)

The Maryland House of Delegates on Thursday unanimously passed two organ donations sponsored by House Speaker Michael E. Busch, whose life was saved by a liver transplant last year.

One would provide a $7,500 tax credit for living donors to help defray their costs of donating all or part of an organ. Busch’s sister, Kathleen "Laurie" Bernhardt, donated part of her liver to the speaker, who was diagnosed last spring with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a life-threatening condition. The Anne Arundel County Democrat has since recovered and resumed his duties as speaker.

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The measure applies to tax years starting in 2018, meaning Busch’s sister would not directly benefit. Gov. Larry Hogan has announced his support for the bill.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch was so ill his sister thought he was dying. Instead, he needed half her liver.

The second Busch-sponsored measure would treat vehicles delivering donor organs or medical personnel en route to a transplant operation as emergency vehicles. That would allow them to use flashing signals and permits them to speed or go through traffic signals if they can do so safely.

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The two bills now go to the Senate, where passage is expected.

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