Governor Cuomo Issues Proclamation Recognizing April as Donate Life Month
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that over five million New Yorkers have enrolled in the New York State Donate Life Registry as organ donors. Through several coordinated efforts, New York has increased organ donation rates to historic levels. In honor of National Donate Life Month and New York’s Donate Life Blue and Green Day, several landmarks across the state will be lit blue and green tonight, including One World Trade Center, the SUNY Administration Building in Albany, the State Fairgrounds Entrance in Syracuse, the Peace Bridge and Niagara Falls.
“New York has made great strides to break down barriers and encourage more New Yorkers to become organ donors,” Governor Cuomo said. “Donate Life Blue and Green Day serves as a reminder of the thousands of New Yorkers still waiting for an organ donation and the simple steps we can take to potentially save a life.”
To increase enrollment in the New York State Donate Life Registry, the Department of Health worked with the Donate Life New York State to launch a more modernized and expanded registry. Enhancements include a more accessible and user-friendly website and the ability to access the registry from multiple state websites, to help streamline the registration process. The updated registry application better connects users and offers social media sharing options as well.
In addition, in October of 2017 Governor Cuomo announced several aggressive initiatives aimed at increasing donor enrollment. The measures included:
Executive Order to Increase Enrollment Opportunities
The Executive Order directed the Department of Health to work with the Transplant Council, Donate Life New York State, health care providers, and hospital systems licensed to provide organ transplant services in order to develop opportunities to increase the number of registered organ donors in the state. The order also directed state agencies to work with the Department of Health to provide opportunities for individuals to enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry when applying for government benefits, services, and licenses.
To encourage New Yorkers to enroll in the registry, the state will expand opportunities to enroll and make it easier than ever to help save a life by becoming an organ donor. According to the federal Organ Procurement and Transplant Network, nearly 10,000 New Yorkers are currently on a list of the more than 118,000 people nationwide waiting for an organ transplant. On average, 22 people die each day in the United States from causes that could have been treated with a donated organ. In addition, tissue donated by one person can positively impact the lives of more than 50 other people.
NY State of Health Donate Life Initiative
In May 2016, Governor Cuomo signed legislation requiring NY State of Health, New York’s official health plan marketplace, to add the organ donation component to its health insurance application. As of April 21, 2017, individuals completing an application, renewing a plan, or making a life status change are now asked if they would like to be added to the NYS Donate Life Registry. Since adding the enrollment option to its marketplace application, over 140,000 New Yorkers have become active enrollees in the New York State Donate Life Registry.
16- and 17-Year-Olds Authorized to Enroll in Donate Life Registry
In August 2016, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to authorize 16- and 17-year-olds to register their consent to donate at the same time they first apply for a driver license, learner permit, or non-driver ID. Since the law took effect on February 14, 2017, a total of nearly 35,000 New Yorkers aged 16 and 17 have become active in the New York State Donate Life Registry.
Legislation Making Lauren’s Law Permanent Signed by Governor Cuomo
In 2017, Governor Cuomo signed a bill removing the expiration language from Lauren’s Law, making it permanent in New York State. Lauren’s Law was originally signed by Governor Cuomo in October 2012, and was named for Lauren Shields, a Rockland County resident who received a life-saving heart transplant at age 9 and became an advocate for organ donation. The original legislation changed the language on the DMV license renewal form to highlight the option for New Yorkers to enroll in the NYS Donate Life Registry. In order for the application to be processed, customers are required to complete the portion related to organ donation.
Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, more New Yorkers than ever can conveniently and efficiently enroll in the State’s Donate Life Registry. The decision to become an organ donor is truly one of the most important and selfless decisions a person can make and I thank all the New Yorkers that have answered the call.”
Department of Motor Vehicles Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan said, “We at DMV are proud to assist New Yorkers in enrolling to become organ donors. We provide the ability to enroll online or at DMV offices, and at various events throughout the year like the Great New York State Fair and the just-concluded New York International Auto Show. We even offer a Donate Life custom plate for people to show their support for the cause.”
Senate Health Committee Chair Kemp Hannon said, “Each year the wait list for organ transplants grows longer, with nearly 10,000 New Yorkers currently awaiting transplant. The numerous laws which I have sponsored and the Governor has signed into law, make it easier for New Yorkers to become organ donors, and allows more people to be saved through organ donation. I will continue to stress the importance of becoming a donor, because donating an organ is saving a life. I look forward to continuing work to increase donation and access to transplantation.”
Senator David Carlucci said, “Lauren’s Law has significantly helped increase the number of registered organ donors in our state, which means thousands waiting on donor lists may get a vital organ sooner. I was proud to work with Lauren Shields to get it passed and thank the Governor for making the law permanent. Today when we wear green and blue we bring more awareness to the life-saving and selfless decision to become an organ donor.”
Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried said, “New York has taken several important steps in making donation easier and more widely available. Lauren’s Law, which has now been made permanent, is a great example of how one person working for a good cause can make a difference.”
Assemblymember Félix W. Ortiz said, “In New York the need for organs for transplant far exceeds the supply. The state can now reach out to more people and do a better job to promote organ donation. Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order will continue to expand the state’s ability to encourage more New Yorkers to become organ donors.”
Donate Life custom plates are available from the Department of Motor Vehicles for New Yorkers interested in showing their support for the cause. When people purchase such a plate, $20 of the annual fee supports the “LifePass It On Trust Fund” which is used for organ donation and transplant research and educational programs promoting organ and tissue donation. You can order the plates here.
New Yorkers can enroll in the NYS Donate Life Registry through the following online options: