State Health Commissioner Novello Urges Eligible New Yorkers to Give The Gift of Life, Register as Organ Donors

High Demand — Nationally 17 People Die Each Day Waiting For Donations

ALBANY, April 14, 2004 — In recognition of April as ‘Donate Life Month’ across the nation, New York State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., is urging all eligible New Yorkers to help save lives by enrolling in the State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry.

Nationally, 17 people die each day waiting for donations. Today, more than 84,000 people are on organ transplant waiting lists nationwide, including nearly 8,000 New Yorkers. Many more people, estimated in the tens of thousands, are in need of tissue transplants in the United States.

Dr. Novello said that there are nearly 786,000 individuals currently enrolled in the New York State Organs and Tissue Donor Registry. "Not withstanding the inspiring number of New Yorkers who have registered as donors, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to increase public awareness of the critical need for organ and tissue donations, and encourage all eligible donors who have not enrolled to do so. Please sign up today and dedicate yourself to organ and tissue donation for a lifetime."

State Motor Vehicle Commissioner Raymond Martinez said, "The DMV has made it easy for New Yorkers who wish to become organ and tissue donors to sign up for the registry through its driver’s license registration, applications for titles and other transactions. The vast majority of New Yorkers who have enrolled in the donor registry have done so through this joint initiative between the DMV and State Health Department, marking yet another example of two state agencies working together for the public good."

One person who donates organs (heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas and intestines) can save up to eight lives, while a tissue donor (corneas, bone, skin, heart valves, tendons, veins, etc.) can improve 50 or more lives by restoring eyesight, helping fight infections in burn patients and preventing the loss of arms or legs.

Dr. Novello said that thanks in large part to the generosity of thousands of organ donors, approximately 24,000 organ transplants were performed in the U.S. in 2002. Despite these developments, the number of patients who have died while on waiting lists has tripled during the past decade.

Since the State donor registry was created by Governor Pataki in 2000, the State Department of Health (DOH) and the State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) have worked closely with the transplant community and other health care organizations to help increase the number of registered organ and tissue donors in New York.

The vast majority of New Yorkers enroll in the donor registry by checking a box on their driver’s license or non-driver identification card application or renewal form. This information is then added to a confidential computerized listing that is transferred electronically to a secure database maintained by the State Health Department.

In addition to checking a box on their driver’s license, non-driver ID card or signing up online, New Yorkers may enroll in the New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry by sending an application form to an organ procurement organization or the State Health Department. Once enrolled in the donor registry, individuals should also sign the back of their driver’s license or ID card to reinforce their wishes to become donors.

For more information, contact an organ procurement organization listed below:

  • Albany 800-256-7811
  • Buffalo 800-227-4771
  • New York City Area 800-Gift-4-NY (800-443-8469)
  • Rochester/Syracuse 800-810-5494

Those individuals who are interested in becoming an organ and tissue donor may also contact the New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry at 1-866-NYDONOR or visit the State Health Department website Department at www.health.state.ny.us and click on: Life ... Pass It On.