I’m so proud that the Maine Legislature overrode the veto of a bill to increase cancer patients’ chances of finding a bone marrow donor. The bill is now law, and I believe that it will save lives.

Rep. Helen Rankin, D-Hiram, introduced the bill in honor of Maine Warden Maj. Gregory Sanborn of Fryeburg. When his community learned that he needed a bone marrow transplant, it rallied around him and raised funds to help people afford the testing. A match was found, but it came too late; Sanborn died last year at the age of 47.

Sanborn’s wish was that more people would be able to afford the testing to establish bone marrow transplantation suitability. Under the new law, health insurance will cover the costs of one test for a policyholder who meets the donation criteria.

I held Sanborn’s story, as well as that of Eric Hapworth, close to my heart as this measure went through the Legislature.

Eric, the beloved brother of my wife, was a husband and father who needed a bone marrow transplant. No match was found in the United States, but his family learned about opportunities abroad, and a match was found in Germany. He received the transplant, but died in 1992 after developing an infection. Had the match been found sooner, Eric’s chances of survival would have been far greater.

I was honored to support this important legislation for Eric, for Sanborn and for all those whose lives could be saved if more people had access to a simple test.

Sanborn’s mother, Blanche Sanborn, said he was looking down and smiling as lawmakers overturned the governor’s veto. Eric must have been as well.

Rep. Stanley Short Jr.D-Pittsfield

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