Good news for “Logan’s Law” came this week, in the wake of difficult news earlier this month for Lenny and Wendy Luft.
Iowa House File 148, known as “Logan’s Law,” moved out of subcommittee to the Natural Resources committee on Monday, then — after a small amendment was made — the bill was passed to the floor of the Iowa House unanimously.
The bill is expected to be debated and voted on by the Iowa House of Representatives sometime next week.
The law — if it passes the House and is signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds — would let Iowans put a symbol on their hunting and fishing licenses indicating they wish to be an organ donor.
It’s named for Logan Luft, a 15-year-old from Charles City who died from injuries suffered in an ATV accident in July of 2017. Logan was an avid outdoorsman, and had expressed interest in organ donation while he was alive.
The Lufts — Logan’s parents — have been actively lobbying for the bill’s passage since its introduction. Lenny Luft is a Charles City police officer and Wendy Luft is a local real estate broker. The couple were in the Capitol on Monday and spoke on behalf of the bill to both the subcommittee and the committee.
Their latest efforts to support the bill came in the wake of a trip to Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, on Saturday to help mourn the death and celebrate the life of teen Faith Westby at a memorial service at Pelican Rapids High School.
Faith died last week. Since July 2017, she had been living with Logan Luft’s liver.
“In the last year and a half, we’ve connected with her and bonded with her family,” said Lenny Luft. “They were just ecstatic about receiving the liver to have her live on.”
Faith was one of five people who received major organs from Logan. His heart went to a 7-year-old girl in Kentucky, his kidneys went to a 3-year-old girl in Minnesota and a 39-year old man in North Dakota, and his pancreas went to 52-year-old woman in South Dakota.
“We’ve seen the great benefit and impact of Logan’s donations being received by other families,” Lenny said. “It’s carried us forward.”
Faith was diagnosed with a large atypical adenoma in the left side of her liver in 2017, and her family had registered her on the donation list in the hopes of finding her a new liver. On July 7, two days after Logan died, they received the call they had been waiting for. Faith received Logan’s liver.
It was a gift that saved her life, her family said.
Over time, the Lufts and the Westbys became friends and called each other their “second families.” They welcomed each other into their lives, thanks to Logan’s gift, they said.
“Seeing and experiencing that process with them, and seeing what good has come out of this tragedy, has been a healing process,” Lenny said. “It’s been a healing process for us, and for the community.”
Lenny said that the Pelican Rapids community embraced Faith’s family in much the same way Charles City embraced Logan’s family.
“Their community is just like Charles City,” he said. “Everybody was involved with her and her family, just as much as our community has been involved with us.”
Faith was hospitalized late last year for a fungal infection in her bloodstream caused by treatment for rejection of the liver transplant. While being treated for her infection, she suffered a pulmonary hemorrhage and died Saturday night, March 16.
“Even though she passed away, she lived a year and a half longer than she would have, had she never received anything,” Lenny said. “For us to be able to put the education process out there, and create more ways to sign up as an organ donor, it puts more people out there to be able to provide for somebody that needs it.”
The experience has made the Lufts even more determined to get Logan’s Law passed and signed.
“The bill overall is a good thing for everybody. It’s good for Iowa, and it’s non-partisan,” Lenny said.
Lenny said that many of Iowa’s legislators have shared their own stories with the Lufts regarding organ donation.
“Some of these people who we’ve met down there have been impacted by a donation from someone,” he said. “They know the result of it, and want to carry that on like we do.”
Lenny spoke to the three-person subcommittee on Monday, as did lobbyists representing funeral directors and lobbyists from the Iowa Donor Network.
“Since we were already down there, we ended up asking the committee chairman if we could move it forward,” Lenny said. “He agreed to move it forward, and have the committee meeting on that day.”
Rep. Robert Bacon, R-Story County, chairman of the Iowa House Natural Resources Committee, also invited both Wendy and Lenny to talk at the committee meeting. Wendy presented a 10-minute synopsis for those on the committee who weren’t already aware of the Luft’s story, and after a brief caucus, the bill passed 19-0.
An amendment was added to the bill which helped differentiate between organ, eye and tissue donation. If it passes the House, the bill will have to go back to the Iowa Senate for another vote, because of the amendment. The Senate voted 47-0 in February in favor of the bill.
Rep. Todd Prichard, D-Charles City, originally filed the bill in the Iowa House, while Sen. Waylon Brown, R-St. Ansgar, introduced the legislation in the Senate.
Gov. Kim Reynolds will have 72 hours to sign the bill into law if it reaches her desk. Both Wendy and Lenny Luft have said they believe the governor is in favor of the bill.
“The governor, from what I’ve been told, is an organ donor herself,” Lenny said. “She’s signed up on the registry to be an organ donor."
There has been talk of trying to arrange the signing in conjunction with a governor’s visit to Charles City at an event at Comet Gym, although much of that depends on the governor’s schedule.
“The public and the whole student body can be there for that,” Lenny said. “If it doesn’t happen in Charles City, then we would do it down at the Capitol. It would just be a lot better for our student body to see it happen in our hometown, and have the general public show up.”