Organ and Tissue Donations Save Lives

Column From Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay

The unmet need for organ and tissue donations presents a significant challenge to patients across the country. And here in New York, the situation is dire. We have a list of nearly 10,000 patients in need of an organ transplant, according to the state’s Donate Life Registry.  Sadly, close to 500 New Yorkers lose their lives each year while waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.

April is National Donate Life Month, and it provides a great opportunity to raise awareness of this critical shortfall. Organ donation is a cause very close to the hearts of several of our Assembly Minority Conference members, and their inspiring sacrifices and commitment to this mission have been instrumental in highlighting the importance of life-saving donations.

Leading by example, Assemblyman Ari Brown (R-Cedarhurst) selflessly donated one of his kidneys last year to a Purple Heart recipient in need of a transplant. Assemblyman Brown already had a history of regularly donating blood, and his incredible act of compassion and generosity was nothing short of remarkable. In 2006, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C-Corning) also donated his own kidney to his sister who was suffering from juvenile diabetes. In the years since, he has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation. Both of these donations helped save someone’s life; one was a stranger and another was a close family member. They are both miracles in their own way.

Earlier this week, many of our Assembly Minority members spoke on the importance of organ and tissue donation as we supported a resolution proclaiming April as Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Month in the State of New York. Assemblyman Robert Smullen (R,C-Mohawk Valley and the Adirondacks) bravely spoke about the tragic death of his son, AJ, and the pride he has knowing AJ’s decision to be a donor means lives will be saved. Out of this tragedy, Assemblyman Smullen and his wife, Megan, were able to find some solace through the Donate Life program, where AJ was able to save the lives of five other people in need.

Whether it is blood donations through the American Red Cross or organ donations through the state’s registry, our members will continue to push hard to expand these life-saving efforts. Donation is not a partisan issue. The individuals who benefit from these incredible acts of generosity do not think in terms of political party or ideology when it comes to dire medical needs. I encourage all New Yorkers to think about how they might be able to help save a life—or several—and consider adding their name to this life-saving registry.