Indiana woman pushing for new organ procurement regulations gets help from Sen. Young

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JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. – An Indiana family experienced a heartbreaking loss, and now, they're working to keep other families from feeling the same pain, while getting some help from a senator who's no stranger to their fallen hero.

Their mission is to change the organ procurement and transplant process to help other families avoid long delays or other complications.

Gunnery Sgt. David (Mac) McFarland died nine years ago this month, after dealing with heart issues.

His widow, Jennifer McFarland Kern of Jeffersonville, spoke to CBS4 via FaceTime about her fight to raise awareness.

“You just pray that everything’s going to work out,” said McFarland Berk. “Well, in our case it didn’t.”

Her late husband, a Marine veteran, needed a heart transplant, but Jenny says the process was a real struggle.

“We basically battled heart failure and waited to be listed for transplant for 7 years,” she said. “Finally when they thought he had deteriorated to a point low enough for transplant, they put him in the hospital. They listed him and three weeks later, he died. We waited on a heart in the hospital.”

Now, McFarland Kern is making it her mission to raise awareness, and she has some help from a Marine who served with her husband, a Marine who just happens to be a U.S. senator.

“She and other Hoosiers are insisting that we shine some light on this,” said Sen. Todd Young (R-IN). “I’ve developed some legislation to do so. I think in coming months, we’ll discuss this and hopefully pass this legislation into law.”

Young says too often, problems occur that point to the need for more regulation. Some of those problems were highlighted this week in an eye-opening report from the Washington Post, which described situations where human hearts were left on airplanes, or infections that developed during the transplant process.

“The organ supply and donation system in this country has been working in the darkness for roughly 30 years, so congressional oversight is long overdue,” said Young. “We have about 115,000 Americans who are waiting on an organ - waiting in line, not knowing whether they`ll continue to be able to live their lives as they’d like to.”

“I have 3 boys and each have a 50/50 chance of getting the same condition, so we inevitably will be facing heart transplant again in the future,” said McFarland Kern. “It’s important to me that we have a process that’s transparent and free of discrepancies and that people are able to get organs when they need them.”

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