More than 8,500 New York state residents are waiting for an organ transplant that can save their life, according to a review of state data by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. Unfortunately, time will run out for around 500 of them, as that is the average number of New Yorkers who die each year before a compatible organ becomes available.
“These aren’t just statistics, but rather our loved ones, coworkers, and neighbors,” says Lorna Fitzpatrick, MD, vice president medical affairs and senior medical director at Excellus BCBS. “We can increase their odds for a successful donor match by increasing the number of people who register to be donors.”
In New York state, the need for donors is among the highest of any state in the union, but just 45 percent of state residents who are eligible have enrolled in the Donate Life Registry.
All New York state residents age 16 and older can enroll to donate their organs, eyes, and/or tissues after their death. One organ donor can save 8 lives and heal 75 more through eye and tissue donation.
- Donatable organs include the heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines.
- Donatable tissues include the eyes/corneas, skin, heart valves, bone, blood vessels, nerve, cartilage and connective tissues.
Following registration, donors receive a letter or email confirming their enrollment in the New York State Donate Life Registry and providing information on how to update the status of their donation decisions. Registration is a legal document ensuring the person’s wish to be a donor is carried out. Family will be told of the decision and given information about the process, but their permission is not needed for the donation to proceed.
“We are sincerely grateful to all donors and donor families who chose to pass life on through the gift of organ, eye and tissue donation,” says Rob Gruenenfelder, Executive Director of Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network. “Their selflessness have given countless people a second chance to live life to the fullest. I’m pleased to also share that 60% of community members in the 20-county region served by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network are registered donors. The increase in the number of individuals registered has had a direct impact the ability to save more lives. In fact in 2021, our organization helped to honor the final wishes of more organ donors than any other year in our 35-year history. This speaks to the hard work of our volunteers, hospital partners, community leaders and advocates in encouraging people to make their donation decisions, as well as our transplant programs for performing these live-saving transplants.”
New York state has simplified the process to register as an organ and tissue donor, including allowing registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles when you apply for a driver’s license or permit (www.DMV.NY.gov), through the Board of Elections when you register to vote, and through the New York State of Health marketplace when you sign up for, or renew, a health insurance plan (www.NYStateofHealth.NY.gov). You can also complete a paper or online registration form, or check to see if you’ve already registered to be an organ donor, at www.DonateLife.NY.gov.