Oct. 27, 2011

Organ, bone marrow donation policy helps employees give back

by Paula Van Brocklin

Being an organ or bone marrow donor is a personal choice, one that most would happily choose to save the life of a family member, friend or even a total stranger. But in addition to the physical strain of the surgery and recovery, such a courageous gift also can impact a donor's work schedule. To help ease that part of the process, Iowa State has adopted an organ and bone marrow donation leave policy.

ISU officially added the policy to the online policy library earlier this fall, though it has been in Iowa's law books since 2003.

"Once the law was passed [in 2003], we have been complying," said Kristi Darr, associate director of human resource services. "We put it in the policy library to make sure that our employees are aware of it."

What the policy says

The organ and bone marrow donation policy states that all ISU employees -- faculty, professional and scientific, and merit -- may take a paid leave of absence of up to 30 work days for vascular organ donation, and up to five days of paid leave for bone marrow donation. In addition, the policy says employees will not lose seniority, pay, vacation, sick leave, health and insurance benefits or earned overtime for taking a leave of absence. Once the leave is over, employees have the option of using sick time for additional paid leave or applying for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) status.

Definitions and details

To qualify for leave, the donor must give a vascular organ that requires continuous circulation of blood to remain viable for donation (such as a kidney or liver). Bone marrow is defined as the soft tissue that fills human bone cavities.

This policy applies only to employees who choose to donate organs or bone marrow; those who are receiving an organ transplant or bone marrow must apply for FMLA or use sick leave.


Employees should contact their supervisors and provide appropriate medical documentation at least 30 days before the leave begins, if possible. Upon returning to work, employees must present a medical release that states they are able to perform their work duties.

Darr said the policy is a goodwill effort to make employees aware of an opportunity to help others.

"This policy could make a difference in whether or not someone decides to be an organ donor," she said.