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Consider becoming an organ donor

By Aileen Gunther
April 10, 2013

April is National Donate Life month and it serves as a powerful reminder that by simply checking “yes” on your driver’s license, someone’s life can be saved. This nearly effortless action allows you to give the most precious gift anyone could ever receive, the gift of life.

While New York State (NYS) is often at the forefront of progress, organ donation is one area that needs our help. While the national average of registered organ donors hovers around 42%, New York comes in at a disappointing 20%. By rallying together this month and joining the New York State Donor Life Registry, we can all make a difference.

Last year, I helped pass Lauren’s Law, named after 12-year-old Lauren Shields, a heart-transplant recipient who has since become an advocate for organ donation. The law requires those applying for a NYS driver’s license to check “yes” or “no” on the organ donor registry section of the application, making organ donation as easy as possible.

To help further the cause, television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz is partnering with the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the NYS Broadcasters Association in a public service campaign aimed at increasing the number of enrollees in New York’s Donate Life Registry. They have created a number of radio and TV ads that will air throughout the month of April.

It’s amazing to think that one organ donor can save up to eight lives and improve the lives of up to 50 others. NYS has nearly 10,000 patients waiting for organs, so increased organ donation rates mean more New Yorkers’ lives will be saved.

I urge you to enroll in the Donate Life Registry, and to encourage those around you to register as well. You never know whose life you may save, or when you or a loved one may need an organ transplant. Let’s help make our state a leader in the area of organ donation, and give us one more reason to be proud New Yorkers.

Those who wish to become an organ donor can sign up online through MyDMV at www.dmv.ny.gov, or in person at any DMV office, or by filling out a donor form and mailing it to the NYS Department of Health. For more information on this or any other important community issue, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at 845/794-5807 or via email at gunthea@assembly.state.ny.us.

[Aileen Gunther is the New York State Assembly Representative for the 98th District.]