We Must Organ-ize

Cartoon by Joe Gallina.

In the time it took you to read this sentence, you could’ve signed up to be an organ donor. That’s how easy it is to become available for a service so scarce, and yet so necessary for society. 

National Organ Donor Day is Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, which was also the day a new law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo went into effect, allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to register as organ donors. This allows even more of the population to enroll themselves in the New York State Donate Life Registry at the same age they may be issued their driver’s license. This is a major step forward for the organ donation lobby as well as empowering young adults across the state.

We at The New Paltz Oracle support this vital piece of legislation and believe that every person has a responsibility to register as an organ donor. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only 48 percent of U.S. adults are registered organ donors. It’s an alarming statistic, given that nearly 120,000 people are currently waiting to receive an organ transplant and approximately 144 are added to that list every day. As a result of such a severe backlog, 22 people die every day while waiting for a transplant.

This is unacceptable given the advancements in modern medicine as well as the number of avenues for registration. Those who wish to donate can register online or in person with their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Alternatively, iPhone users can quickly register using the Health app, which comes as part of the basic package.

A common hesitation for those contemplating whether or not to register to be an organ donor is fear of bringing additional hardship on their loved ones in the event of an unexpected passing. As hard as it may be for loved ones to contemplate the idea of their relative’s organs being harvested, one must imagine how they would feel if they were in a less fortunate position, waiting in the hospital, hoping for an organ donor to appear. 

Another interesting initiative comes from Jason Villalba, a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives, who has filed an opt-out bill. The legislation is changing the process of actually signing up to become a donor. Instead of checking off to become a donor when receiving a license, the system is switching to say that people are included in the organ donor registry, with consent, unless they check the box to opt out of it. A disclosure will be given at the Department of Motor Vehicles  to make sure the driver is aware of the change. This will likely lead to an increase in donors in a state like Texas, where there is a clear shortage of donors. 

We encourage every healthy and willing individual to utilize the power of donation to spare someone else’s family that immeasurable pain. We respect that some have reservations upon becoming an organ donor that are dependent upon one’s religious views. However, if this is not a factor, registering as a donor is an important and humane deed. One organ donor can save up to eight lives. 

The ability to become an organ donor really speaks to a person’s ability to sympathize for a group of people or situation they will never know. Not only can a donated organ save a life, it can assist people in coming off expensive treatments they need to maintain an otherwise failing organ. 

For more information about organ donations and online registration, visit: www.liveonny.org/about-donation/data/