ALBANY, N.Y., Jan. 9, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- More New Yorkers joined the New York State Donate Life Registry (Registry) in 2018 than in any other year since the consent Registry was established in 2008.
"A record-breaking total of 604,163 New Yorkers documented their consent to donate organs and tissues in the New York State Donate Life Registry. This represents a growth of 12.3 percent," said Aisha Tator, Executive Director of Donate Life New York State, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing organ, eye and tissue donation throughout New York State.
The Registry is a confidential database of residents who have signed up to donate their organs, eyes and/or tissue after their death. As of December, 2018, the Registry surpassed 5.5 million enrollees.
Recent Policies Produce Results Policy initiatives aimed at increasing donor registration have had a significant impact in the state. Lauren's Law, which changed the donor enrollment question on the driver license, learner's permit, and non-driver ID application and renewal form from an optional section to one requiring an answer, resulted in a more than 50 percent increase in the number of New Yorkers saying "yes" to joining the New York State Donate Life Registry while at the DMV.
Policies to expand enrollment portals for New Yorkers have also been successful. "There has been an overwhelmingly positive public response to diversified Registry enrollment opportunities, and these portals, which are unique to New York, have been significant contributors to the Registry's growth," said Tator. These enrollment portals include the New York State of Health application, New York City Municipal Identification card application, and the voter registration form. "In 2018, one out of every five registrants, more than 116,000 people, enrolled through one of these three innovative enrollment portals," said Tator.
A new law implemented in 2017 also positively impacted enrollments by lowering the age of eligibility to join the Registry from 18 to 16. Currently, more than 55,000 16 and 17-year-olds have enrolled in the New York State Donate Life Registry.
The Critical Need and Impact While donor enrollment is on the rise, there continues to be a critical shortage of organs and tissues for transplant. New York State has the third highest need for donors in the country, yet the second lowest percentage of registered donors. Out of the estimated 9,500 New Yorkers on the organ transplant waiting list, approximately 1,700 have been waiting for life-saving transplants for more than five years. Each year, approximately 400 men, women and children in the state die because of the shortage of donors. One person can save up to eight lives as an organ donor and improve the lives of many more through tissue donation. Enrollment in the Registry facilitates the donation and transplantation process making more organs available to those who need them and improving patient outcomes.
"Collaboration may be the single most important thing we do," said Tator. "Bringing together partners and allies from across the state to develop creative solutions and new strategies to increase donations is the foundation by which progress is made."
These partners include organ procurement organizations, eye and tissue banks, the Department of Health, Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), New York State Legislature, and other companies, organizations and institutions throughout the state. Important efforts to increase enrollment in the Registry include the expansion of registration opportunities with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and New York State lawmakers.
New York State Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard N. Gottfried said, "Organ donation saves lives. New York has taken several important steps in making donation easier and more widely available and this data shows it's working to expand donors. I congratulate Donate Life New York State on this good news and look forward to continuing to work with them to expand donation and access."
New York State Senate Health Committee Chairman Gustavo Rivera said, "It is incredibly encouraging that the New York State Donate Life Registry saw record growth last year, with more than 600,000 New Yorkers signing up to become organ and tissue donors. This moment should inspire us to continue building on this trend. I look forward to working with organizations such as Donate Life New York State, to implement common sense policies that will facilitate New Yorkers' ability to save lives."
New York State Assembly Assistant Speaker, Felix W. Ortiz said, "Lowering the age of eligibility and improving our organ donor registry efforts have increased awareness of the NYS Donate Life Registry. This has led to record breaking participation in New York. I know firsthand that the Donate Life Registry can save lives. I will continue to support and promote the Registry until every New Yorker in need of a transplant gets one."
New York State Senator David Carlucci said, "A record number of registered organ donors in New York State is a testament to the hard-work myself and advocates have done to promote giving the gift of life and raising awareness about its life-saving importance. Since Lauren's Law took effect in 2012, we know the state average has increased about 9 percent. While the state has taken steps to increase donations, including sign ups through the driver license process, about 9,500 New Yorkers remain on the national transplant waiting list. We must and can do more."
New York State Senate Minority Leader John J. Flanagan said, "It is truly rewarding to see that the efforts undertaken over the last number of years have started to take meaningful effect. Through public education campaigns, important changes to our state's laws, and the leadership efforts of Donate Life NYS, New York has made positive strides in the effort to register life-saving organ donors and that will help save lives. While our state still has room for improvement, I thank everyone who has made the decision to register as an organ donor and encourage all New Yorkers to sign up today."
Donor Enrollment Opportunities New Yorkers can enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry online at www.donatelife.ny.gov or through the DMV when applying for or renewing a driver license or non-driver ID card. Individuals may also enroll while applying for a New York City Municipal ID card, registering to vote or applying for coverage through the New York State of Health marketplace.
About Donate Life New York State Donate Life New York State (NYS), formerly New York Alliance for Donation, is a not-for-profit with a mission to increase organ, eye and tissue donation in New York State through collaborative advocacy, education, promotion, and research. Our goal is to ensure a transplant for every New Yorker in need. Donate Life New York State is comprised of four organ procurement organizations, eye and tissue banks as well as processors, and other affiliates, including dedicated donation and transplantation professionals.