– A record 303,000 New Yorkers living in the Greater New York Area registered to be organ donors in 2012. This single year record for new organ donor registrants in Greater New York drove the total number of registered organ donors in New York State to over three million, or 20% of the State’s eligible population (those 18 or older). The number of new organ donor enrollments in 2012 is 3% higher than new enrollments in 2011 and 17% higher than in 2010.
Several factors contributed to the rise in organ donor registrations in New York in 2012. None was more important than the increased support for the organ donation cause from both the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the New York Department of Health (DOH). In April, DMV and DOH launched online organ donor registration via DMV’s online portal called My DMV (at https://my.dmv.ny.gov/crm/). Thousands of New Yorkers responded by registering as organ donors via My DMV. DMV also increased efforts at its brick and mortar locations with increased advertising via its in-office TV network, posters, and banners.
“The State Health Department is committed to increasing public awareness of the importance of organ donation, and is proud to be part of the collective, successful efforts with our partners to increase donor enrollments across New York," State Health Commissioner, Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., said. "This single-year record for new organ donor registrants is an important milestone, and we look forward to helping New York achieve even greater numbers in the years to come."
“I thank the more than three million New Yorkers who have registered as organ donors, especially the 303,000 Greater New York residents who answered the call this past year to give the gift of life to others,” said DMV Commissioner Barbara J. Fiala. “But the need is still great and we have a long way to go to help all those who need lifesaving transplants. I urge every New Yorker who hasn’t yet done so to consider registering to be an organ and tissue donor.”
New York is the only state that allows for residents to register as organ donors when they register to vote. 2012 marked the first Presidential election year in which this option was available to New Yorkers. Through this new entry point, 45,000 New Yorkers in the Greater New York Area registered to be organ donors.
Further, in June 2012, the New York State Legislature passed into law, “Lauren’s Law,” a law to increase organ donation by expanding the donor options on driver’s license application. Under this new measure, which was subsequently signed into law by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in September 2012, New Yorkers who are applying for, or renewing, a driver’s license or non-driver’s license ID will be required to respond to the organ donor enrollment question. New Yorkers can either select “yes” to enroll as an organ donor on the New York State Donate Life Registry or “skip this question.” Currently, the organ donor enrollment question is optional. The law will take effect in October of 2013.
Complementing the efforts of the State’s agencies and legislature, the New York Organ Donor Network launched a provocative multi-media campaign to call more attention to the need for registered organ donors. As part of that effort, NYODN developed a strong online New York-centric organ donation community. On Facebook alone, the community grew over 300% in 2012 to more than 35,000.
While great strides were made in 2012, much more is needed. New York still ranks near the bottom of states in percentage of eligible population registered as organ donors (the national state average for residents enrolled as donors is nearly 45%). The critical need for increased organ donor enrollment remains in New York where nearly 10,000 people are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. In fact, every 15 hours another New Yorker dies waiting for an organ transplant.
“We are pleased with the progress that was made in organ donor enrollments in New York throughout 2012. New Yorkers, as they always do, are responding to the call for help. The fact remains, however, that all over New York State, there are people waiting for a life-saving organ transplant,” said Helen Irving, President and CEO of the New York Organ Donor Network. “We encourage New Yorkers to enroll to be organ donors in order to save the lives of their fellow New Yorkers. One organ donor alone can save the lives of eight people. There is no greater time than now to register to be an organ donor.”
To learn more about organ donation, and how to enroll to be a donor in NY, please visit www.SaveLivesNewYork.org.