New York has nation’s highest need for organ donors, insurer reports

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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, co-workers, 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 providing information on how to change or limit their donation. 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.

“New Yorkers are generous, kind and want to help others — they just need to know how.

Anyone aged 16 and older can join the New York State Donate Life Registry and potentially save the lives of up to 8 people through organ donation and heal 75 more through tissue donation,” says Aisha Tator, executive director of Donate Life New York State. “Registering as an organ and tissue donor is an extraordinary act, and we encourage every New Yorker to sign up today and give someone in need the gift of life.”

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, 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. 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.

More information is also available at The Center for Donation & Transplant at www.cdtnyvt.org, a federally designated organ procurement organization in upstate New York.

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