You Have The Power To Save Lives, Sign Up To Be an Organ Donor

2OP-Ed By New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele

Thousands of names are on the list, but not all will be saved. That’s the reality known by far too many people as they wait on New York’s organ transplant list. We must help raise awareness that we each have the power to save lives and that there is a real need. Studies show that New Yorkers overwhelmingly support organ donation – 9 out of 10 people – yet only 27 percent are actually registered organ donors, compared to more than 50 percent nationally.
The shortage of organ donors is a national crisis, but it’s clear that New York particularly is in desperate need and has the ability to make a change. New York State ranks last out of all 50 states for organ donors, but ranks third in people waiting for organ donations.Out of the 120,000 Americans currently waiting for organ transplants, nearly 10,000 live here in New York. Together, we can help increase the chances of survival for those in need of lifesaving organ, tissue or eye transplants by simply registering and encouraging our loved ones to do the same. Remember, one donor can save up to eight lives and improve up to 50 others.
Anyone 16 years of age or older can register as an organ donor in New York State, and there are no costs to the donor or their family. Organ failure affects people of all ages and ethnicities, and it’s important to have diversity among donors to help save as many lives as possible. It’s also important to know that organs are given to people based on the severity of their illness, compatibility to the donor and their time spent waiting on the transplant list, not based on wealth or social status.
It’s now easier for New Yorkers to become organ donors, thanks to Lauren’s Law, which passed in 2012 and allows people to register as a donor when applying for or renewing a New York State driver’s license or non-driver identification card. The law takes the name of a girl who received a lifesaving heart transplant at the age of 12. In 2016, a new law was passed allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to become organ donors while giving their parent or legal guardian the final say if the child unfortunately passed away before the age of 18.
Living donation, such as donating a kidney to a family member, is also possible. This gift of life, usually done through directed donation, forges long-lasting bonds between donors and recipients.
To become a registered organ donor in New York State, you can apply in person at your local Department of Motor Vehicles, sign up online at LiveOnNY.org or download the form at health.ny.gov/donatelife and mail it in. Additionally, you can sign up when you register to vote at the Board of Elections or by visiting organdonor.gov.
Join the fight in helping more New Yorkers live longer, healthier lives by spreading the word about the importance of organ donation and how transplantation has saved lives and can save countless more. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions about this or any community issue by calling 631-537-2583 or email me at thielef@nyassembly.gov.

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