Former Aurora lawmaker honored in renewal of state’s organ donor awareness fund

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DENVER | Lawmakers this session used the renewal of the state’s organ donor awareness fund to honor Rep. Janet Buckner and her late husband, former Aurora Representative John Buckner.

The late Buckner represented Aurora in the state House from 2012 to 2015 when he contracted a virus that exacerbated an existing respiratory condition. While it was first thought not to be a life-threatening issue, John Buckner died several weeks later in May 2015.

Buckner was appointed to finish her late husband’s term in the 2016 legislative session and subsequently won election to the seat in November.

To recognize John Buckner’s legacy as an organ and tissue donor, lawmakers added his name to the state’s organ donation recognition fund when they renewed it for an additional decade this session. The fund will now be known as the Emily Maureen Ellen Keyes and John W. Buckner Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Fund.

Buckner was one of the sponsors of the renewal of the fund but wasn’t aware lawmakers wanted to honor her husband with the renaming. She said she was caught by surprise when an amendment to the bill was added to recognize her husband.

“Ten years ago this fund was named for Emily Keyes, a young woman whose life was taken too early, to honor her memory and her desire to give the gift of life,” Buckner said. “I’m so honored that my husband’s name will now join hers, and that both of their legacies as extraordinary people who made extraordinary contributions to help others thrive will continue.”

The fund was set to expire next year. The bill also makes registration in the donor program permanent unless someone asks to take themselves out of the donor program.