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Organ donations could increase when new law takes effect

New York has the lowest percentage of registered organ donors in the U.S., and advocates believe a new law that will take effect next month will improve this statistic.

The Young Adult Enrollment Legislation will allow 16- and 17-year-olds to sign up to make organ donations upon their death. Currently, registered donors must be at least 18.

Under the new law, parents and legal guardians would still have the right to refuse organ donations for minors. Still, advocates believe many parents would be inclined to follow the wishes of their children.

After individuals turn 18, their status on the Donate Life Registry provides them the legal right to authorize the action.

Sarah Dina, director of marketing and development at Upstate New York Transplant Services, said the law’s potential impact is “huge.”

“Every year, there are thousands of 16- and 17-year-olds that go to the [Department of Motor Vehicles], and now they will be able to give their intent to donate,” she said. “The potential impact on the registry is significant.”

Supporters of the legislation was signed this summer by Gov. Cuomo note that other states allow minors to declare their intent to become organ donors.

Registering to become an organ donor is a simple process that can be completed when people receive or renew their drivers’ licenses, advocates said.

According to data posted on the UNYTS website, nearly 124,000 people nationwide are waiting for a lifesaving organ. This figure includes more than 12,000 people who reside in New York.  An electronic statewide database of donors is accessible by hospitals and procurement organizations. 

WBFO's Amanada Snyder contributed to this report.

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