LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — A new program is making sure individuals who give part of themselves are getting something in return. State employees who donate an organ are now being offered paid leave, for what Governor Gretchen Whitmer called a selfless act.

Liza Estlund Olson, Office of the State Employer Director said the governor wants the state of Michigan as an employer to lead in this space, and according to Estlund Olson, they are the only employer in the state to offer this incentive. 

“So, as an employer of 48,000 people, the Governor said let’s put a program together that takes away the economic boundaries that make it hard for people to offer up the opportunity to do this,” Estlund Olson said.

The paid recovery period is 60 days from the date of donation for people who donate a kidney or part of their liver, and up to 30 days for donation of bone marrow.

Terri Shaler, a state employee for more than two decades, donated her kidney in the spring and said she now shares a forever bond with her friend and co-worker.

“It’s a great feeling to have been able to give this gift to my friend who was really, really struggling, in a bad way so, to watch her now and what she’s able to do and be able to walk five miles and not struggle to go up a flight of stairs,” Shaler said.

Shaler donated before the state program got underway and had to accumulate more than 3 years of sick time to do it.

So, she knows this program will remove barriers for others to help out as well. “I’m excited that they’re introducing this new program to state employees because it wasn’t a barrier for me, but it could be if I didn’t have the sick time,” Shaler said.

Officials are still in the process of notifying state employees of this new program, and there is a long process of actually becoming a donor- but they are hopeful this will allow more lives to be saved.