Legislation Enhancing Organ Donations Signed Into Law

Cahill says new organ donor laws are an important first step, more action is needed
August 18, 2006

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D – Ulster, Dutchess) announced today that Governor Pataki has signed into law a bi-partisan seven bill legislative package aimed at increasing avenues for organ donor awareness, enhancing donor opportunities and providing tax incentives for organ donors and their families. The new laws came out of a much broader organ donor proposal advanced this year by the Assembly. Of the twelve bills passed by the Assembly, five of which Assemblymember Cahill either introduced or co-sponsored, seven were taken up and passed by the Senate.

“No one in this State has been free from some kind of incident, tragedy or joy associated with an individual who benefited or would have benefited from an organ transplant or from research on organs that has led to advancements in science to extend and improve life,” said Mr. Cahill. “It is important that we take those experiences and turn them into something positive by pledging to support organ donation research, raising awareness or by becoming an organ donor. These new laws will go a long way towards striking down existing barriers for potential organ donors."

The legislation signed by the Governor this week will accomplish the following:

  • Provide that driver's licenses and renewals issued to a person making an anatomic gift include a prominently printed statement confirming the organ donor status. This legislation has been introduced and passed by Assemblymember Cahill in each of the last five years;
  • Require the State Transplant Council to study the issue of a presumed consent standard in organ donations;
  • Change the organ and tissue donor registry from one of intent to consent;
  • Provide donors and their families income tax credits for up to $10,000;
  • Require driver's license applications to allow for a voluntary contribution to the Life - Pass It On Trust Fund;
  • Establish an anatomical gift information program to promote public awareness of organ donation;
  • Renames the New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry to the “Donate Life” Registry to further encourage organ and tissue donation.

“Even with these improvements to the laws, the truth of the matter is, we are still well behind the curve in the area of organ donor policy when compared to other developed nations,” said Mr. Cahill. “We need to make sure we build on this progress and come back with an even more ambitious agenda next year.”