Magnarelli Urges Governor to Sign Bills to Increase Organ Donation, Participation and Awareness

August 11, 2006

To support the life-saving practice of organ donation and make it easier for New Yorkers to become organ donors, I supported several measures that currently await the governorís signature to become law.

This legislation is designed to increase the number of organ donors and to expand the donation program throughout the state.

Out of the more than 90,000 people waiting for organs throughout the nation, over 8,000 are in New York State. A single individual can help as many as 50 people by becoming an organ donor.

Someoneís son, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother or friend are waiting for the compatible organ they urgently need. By simply becoming an organ donor Ė somebodyís loved one can be saved.

Increasing awareness and opening more doors for organ donation

To increase the number of registered organ and tissue donors in New York and help patients who are waiting for life-saving transplants, the legislatureís package contains several measures to enhance the stateís donation program, these important measures are awaiting the governorís signature including:

  • Requiring the stateís transplant council to study the current donation process and determine whether we should move toward a system of ďpresumed consent,Ē where it will be assumed that all individuals are donors unless they specify otherwise (A.11842), which is awaiting the governorís signature. This is the standard in many European countries and has resulted in a greatly increased number of donors.
  • Requiring the state Health Department to provide information to the public regarding organ and tissue donation, including how to register to become a donor (A.9902-B); which is awaiting the governorís signature.
  • Printing organ donorsí wishes prominently on the front of their driverís license to make sure these requests are evidently visible (A.3995) which is awaiting the governorís signature.
  • ďLife - Pass it OnĒ trust fund, which is used solely for organ donation outreach and research (A.4294) which is awaiting the governorís signature.

The package also changes the definition of the organ and tissue donor registry from one of intent to consent. Current law requires that even if an individual indicates that they are an organ donor, upon his or her death, hospitals or organ procurement organizations must get consent from next-of-kin before using organs or tissue. This measure makes simply signing up as an organ donor sufficient indication, resulting in more donors helping more individuals (A.11883) which is awaiting the governorís signature.

Plus, to capture the real, more accurate meaning behind the concept of organ donation, the existing organ and tissue registry will be renamed the Donate Life Registry (A.11887) which is awaiting the governorís signature.

Providing tax incentives to become a donor

To encourage more New Yorkers to become donors, living donors will be eligible for a state tax deduction of up to $10,000 to cover expenses related to organ donation, including lost wages (A.3072) which is awaiting the governorís signature.

But there is more to be done thatís why Iím fighting for these important measures;

To encourage organ donation at the workplace, the Assembly included a measure that provides salary/wage reimbursement to private employers who grant a paid leave-of-absence for employee organ and tissue donors, (A.9573-A) passed Assembly.

The Assembly also included a measure that helps those who wish to donate organs or bone marrow to afford the time off from their jobs to undergo the necessary testing, donation and recovery processes. The measure requires employers to give the donors adequate time off, and if the employer provides paid leave, the state provides the business federal and state tax credits, (A.11879) passed Assembly.

Income tax return forms will also include a voluntary organ donation check-off box to make it easier for individuals to become donors, (A.6692) passed the Assembly, A mandatory $1 surcharge on renewal forms for organ donation costs, (A.11601) passed the Assembly also,

If more New Yorkers were aware of the great impact they could have by becoming organ donors, Iím confident that more people would participate in the program. And by making it easier to convey a donorís wishes, there will be a much greater benefit for those who are waiting to receive life-saving organs and tissue.