2006-09-01 / Community

New Laws Hope To Increase Organ Donors

A new set of laws designed to increase organ and tissue donors and decrease critical wait list time will eliminate legal red tape and offer tax breaks for those who donate.

"There is an urgent need for all New Yorkers to learn about organ and tissue donation," explained Senator Malcolm Smith. "We know that donated organs are matched by such factors as blood and tissue typing, which can vary by race. So patients are more likely to find matches among donors of their same race of ethnicity," he added.

The Organ and Tissue Donor Registry laws will now change donors' status from those who have signified intent to donate to those who have given consent to donate. After the laws take effect, this change will eliminate hospitals' and procurement organizations' need to get consent from any next of kin, an important step for those awaiting a lifesaving transplant.

Lawmakers realize that the number of organ and tissue donors has remained static while the number of those in need of a transplant is increasing, with over 500 New Yorkers dying every year while they wait for the gift of life that never comes. "With more than 8,000 New Yorkers waiting for the phone to ring with news of an available kidney, liver or lung, there's no time to lose in educating the public about organ donation," according to Smith.

In addition to the change in donor status, lawmakers are introducing a tax break of up to $10,000 for donors to help reduce costs of travel and lost wages due to their contribution.

Promoting public awareness, several other laws were enacted, including one creating an educational outreach program within the NYS Department of Health; another renames the Registry to the "Donate Life" Registry; and another requires that drivers license application or renewal forms include a voluntary check box for a one dollar donation to the "Life: pass It On" fund.

For more information on enrolling in the registry or to help spread the word, visit www.health.state.ny.us or www.organdonor.gov

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