Rep. Steve Cookson, R-Poplar Bluff, learned last year that he is in liver failure and needs a transplant. He is also a survivor of both liver cancer and hepatitis C. Cookson has made it a personal mission this legislative session to get a bill passed that would allow an organ donor program checkoff on individual and corporate income tax returns to continue. The checkoff is set to expire at the end of the year, unless the legislature endorses House Bill 105 or Senate Bill 248 before the regular session ends on Friday.

Representative Steve Cookson (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

“I just would ask the members of the body to think about how they may personally be affected by this (bill) and how important it would be for them, their spouses and their children,” he says. “I would ask that the body overwhelmingly support this bill for all those people that just want to have a chance at continuing life.”

The checkoff lets people donate $2 or more from their refund to the Missouri Organ Donor Trust Fund, which manages the organ and tissue donor registry. The registry allows individuals to provide approval to have their organs and tissues donated so that relatives aren’t asked to.

In recent months, Cookson says he has spent a lot of time reflecting on his life, and what life is.

“Life is just time,” says Cookson. “Each individual wants a chance at life because they want to make those connections to the important people in their life, I think. That’s the reason for life is the keeping of connections with important people like my son and my wife and my relatives, my close friends.”

Cookson is serving his final two-year term in the House.