Walsh Highlights Donate Life Month

April 23, 2019

Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh (R,C,I-Ballston) is celebrating Donate Life Month throughout April and is encouraging residents to become organ donors. Throughout the country, approximately 113,000 men, women and children are currently waiting for an organ transplant. Among this statistic, approximately 10,000 of those are New Yorkers.

Unfortunately, New York is ranked the lowest in the nation for rate of organ donor registration, according to the 2018 Donate Life America annual report. The organization cites just 32% of the state’s eligible residents are registered. Distance plays an extremely critical role in deciding who receives an organ when it becomes available, and since New York’s registration numbers are staggeringly low, the chances of New York residents receiving needed organs is unlikely. Fortunately, there are various ways to register as an organ donor:

· New online registry (www.donatelife.ny.gov/register)

· DMV online (dmv.ny.gov/mydmv)

· NYS Health Exchange (www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov)

· Visit your local DMV Office (Saratoga County & Schenectady)

· Voter registration form

· IDNYC card application or renewal (only for residents of New York City)

· Printable Enrollment form ( www.donatelife.ny.gov/download-forms/)

In addition, Walsh has worked at county and state levels to ensure that New York boosts their organ donation rates. In 2017, Saratoga County Coroner Susan Hayes Masa came to Walsh with an idea to address the shortage of much-needed organs and tissues. This led to their collaboration to introduce legislation (A. 6582) that would establish protocols that coroners and medical examiners statewide must adhere to in order to enhance opportunities for eye and tissue donation.

This piece of legislation would allow coroners and medical examiners to refer deaths to the designated organization to verify donor registrations and suitability. Under current law, coroners and medical examiners did not have protocol to refer deaths for donation, making it extremely difficult to address the shortage of these needed organs and tissues. This year, Walsh is working in a bi-partisan manner with Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Kings) in hopes that the legislation will be considered and approved by their colleagues. Whether it has been raising public awareness to the importance of Organ Donation or passing critical legislation to increase eye, tissue and organ donation, Ortiz has been a champion for organ donation improvements in New York State.

“By enrolling in New York State’s organ donor registry, you have the potential to save someone’s life—possibly even someone you know,” said Walsh. “Since our recent initiatives, New York’s donor registration has increased. However, there are still more steps to take in ensuring that the gap between the number of donors and the number of individuals in need is closed. While it may seem like a difficult thing to consider, this one selfless act has the potential to give up to eight lives a second chance.”

“Over 9,000 New Yorkers are waiting for a transplant. A life is lost every 18 hours,” said Ortiz. “If half of the over 19 million people in New York registered with the New York State Donor Registry, we would never lose another life due to a lack of available organs. Please, make today the day you sign up to be a donor with the New York State Donor Registry.”

“Saratoga County Coroners are proud to partner with Assemblywoman Walsh to ensure those we serve have the opportunity to make the decision to help others through donation. If you never ask, the answer is always NO,” said Susan Hayes-Masa, Saratoga County Coroner.