Legislature Passes Bill To Promote Organ Donation

June 21, 2004

The State Legislature today approved legislation (A.11301-A/S.7058-A) that would make the New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry permanent by writing it into New York State health law.

"I have been working with the New York Alliance for Donation, Inc. (formerly the New York State Task Force to Increase Organ and Tissue Donation) for years to establish the registry and put its provisions into statute," said State Assemblyman Robin Schimminger. "Having the Department of Health set up the registry administratively was very positive, but going one step further and inserting the registry into law will ensure that maintaining the registry remains a priority. The success that this initiative has already demonstrated provides ample argument for taking that step."

With advances in surgical techniques and the introduction of new drugs to combat organ rejection, more persons are being recommended for transplants than ever before, but while the success rate of transplants has risen drastically, the number of available organs has not. The waiting list for organ transplantation has been increasing by the thousands every year. Some patients wait months or even years for a compatible organ, while others never receive the organs they need to survive. "One of the greatest gifts anyone could give or receive is the gift of life or improved health resulting from an organ, tissue, or eye donation," said Schimminger. "By placing this registry in statute, the state ensures that the registry will continue to collect the names of those who have declared their intent to donate the gift of life."

The New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry was established administratively in 2000 by the State Health and Motor Vehicles Departments. The process implemented allows those over the age of 18 applying for or renewing either a driverís license or non-driverís identification card to indicate if they would like to donate organs, tissues, or eyes. This information is then given to the Health Department to add to a central data access point in order to help counsel a decedentís family about his or her wish to make an anatomical gift. People can also add their names to the registry via the Internet at www.health.state.ny.us. More than 800,000 New Yorkers have already chosen to be listed.

"The registry is a vital component of the organ and tissue donation process, allowing an individual to declare his or her intention to donate," said Schimminger. "In addition, it is equally important for people who have made that decision to discuss their intentions with their family and friends so that, at the critical and emotional moment, the way is clear to following their wishes to give someone else the gift of life."