Legislation co-sponsored by Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) passed the Assembly earlier today and is heading to Gov. Cuomo’s desk for consideration. The bill would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to register as organ donors.
Earlier this week, Palmesano joined Assemblyman Felix Ortiz and Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, donor families and recipients and organ donation activists at a press conference in the capitol urging bipartisan support for the bill on the Assembly floor.
The bill includes a provision which would ensure parents retain the authority to decide if their child could donate if the circumstances arose.
“We ask young people to make a lot of important choices- where they will attend college, where they want to work, what passions they want to pursue. I believe they are well equipped to make this important and selfless choice. This also creates an important opportunity for parents and their children to discuss this very important issue when they are going to get their drivers license. With over 10,000 New Yorkers waiting for transplants, an influx of new registrants can’t come soon enough,” said Palmesano.
Currently, New York is one of only five states that require those who wish to register as organ and tissue donors to wait until their 18th birthday.
New York ranks 51st out of 52 states and territories in donation rate, trailing only Puerto Rico. Only 23 percent of eligible New Yorkers are enrolled as donors, a rate that lags behind the national average of 50 percent. One person donating at the time of their death can save up to eight lives and impact up to 50 others.
Palmesano is not discouraged. He believes a combination of legislative action and community engagement will turn organ donation in New York State into a model of success for other states struggling with low donation rates.
“This legislation is part of our ongoing effort to turn New York State into a national leader in organ donation,” said Palmesano. “By nature, New Yorkers care about their neighbors and their family members. This is a fight we can win. We will continue to raise awareness and get the message out there that organ donation saves lives and brings comfort and renewal to families who need it most.”