How to Become an Organ Donor
Enroll in the New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry
In Spring 2000, the New York State Task Force to Increase Organ and Tissue Donation announced the launch of the New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry. This Registry, a confidential database maintained by the New York State Department of Health, evidences an individual's intent to donate organs/tissues upon his/her death. It will also help to ease the decision-making process of donation for family members. Most essential is for the Registry enrollee to tell their family about their intentions to be an organ and tissue donor.
There are several ways for you to enroll in the Organ and Tissue Donor Registry:
- Check the box on your application for new or renewal driver's license/nondriver identification card either at the Department of Motor Vehicle's offices or received by mail.
- Download the Registry form at the New York State Department of Health web site: www.health.state.ny.us (go to consumer information/organ and tissue donation).
- It is important to sign the back of your driver's license with the signatures of two witnesses as well.
- Remember to share with your family your intent to be an organ and tissue donor.
If you should change your mind after you enroll, you should tell your health care provider and your family that you've changed your mind. You should also write to the Department of Health (New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Standards Development, 433 River Street, Hedley Park Place, 6th Floor, Troy, New York 12180) to have your name removed from the Registry. If you signed the back of your driver's license, you should cross out the information.
To learn more about organ and tissue donation, go to www.health.state.ny.us (go to consumer information/organ and tissue donation); call the New York Organ Donor Network at 1-800-GIFT-4-NY (443-8469); or call the New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry at 1-877-752-3175. Informational brochures about the Registry and organ/tissue donation are available in English and Spanish at the New York Organ Donor Network or by calling the Registry at the toll-free number listed above.
Facts You Should Know About Organ and Tissue Donation:
Nationwide, more than 71,000 people are waiting for organ transplants, yet only about 22,000 received transplants in 1999. More than 6,000 people died in America waiting for organ transplants in 1999.
In New York State
7,000 New Yorkers are currently awaiting organ transplants. Each year, an average of only 350 New Yorkers donate their organs. Clearly, there is a critical shortage of organs neeed for lifesaving transplants. One organ donor can save up to eight lives (by donating heart, lungs, liver, kidney, pancreas, and intestines). More than 20,000 New Yorkers await tissue donations for lifesaving and life-enhancing procedures. Without these surgeries, these people will die or remain disabled. One tissue donor (corneas, bone, skin, heart valves, tendons, veins, etc) can help to save or improve 12 or more lives.
Anyone Can Become a Donor
Organs and tissues are distributed through federally or state authorized regional organ and tissue banks. Your decision to become an organ/tissue donor will not interfere with the health care you receive. Saving a patient's life is the health care provider's first priority. Donation does not cost your family anything. One of the most important things you can do when you decide to be an organ/tissue donor is to share your desire with your family.
By enrolling in the New York State Donate Life Registry, you become a designated donor. This means that you are giving legal consent to the recovery of your organs, tissues and eyes for the purpose of transplantation and research at the time of your death. Your legally binding decision may not be overturned by any other person. It ensures that your decision will be shared with your next-of-kin or other authorized person; the donation process will be explained to them in great detail.
To become a donor, visit www.DonateLifeNY.org and inform your family of your decision.