Press Release-10-8-20

New York State News

October 8, 2020

Governor Cuomo Urges New Yorkers to Register as Organ Donors on New York's Annual Organ Donor Enrollment Day

6.4 Million New Enrollees Since New Initiative Began in 2015

More Than 9,000 New Yorkers Await a Lifesaving Transplant

On New York State Organ Donor Enrollment Day, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New York State residents to register as organ donors through the New York State Donate Life Registry. As the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all areas of the healthcare system, including organ donation, the NYS Donate Life Registry is a safe and easy way for New Yorkers to register to become an organ donor and give someone a second chance at life.

"As we continue to fight against COVID-19, we once again have an opportunity to demonstrate New York's tremendous love and generosity by encouraging New Yorkers to become organ donors, saving more lives in the process," Governor Cuomo said. "Unfortunately, the pandemic has caused declines in organ donations, and with so many awaiting lifesaving organ transplants, I encourage New Yorkers to become organ donors and join the NYS Donate Life Registry."

While most people who have COVID-19 fully recover, older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions are most at risk of suffering damage to their lungs and other organs as well, which has increased the need for organ donors.

More than 9,000 New Yorkers are among the 108,675 Americans currently awaiting an organ transplant, according to the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. More than 400 New Yorkers die each year because the organ they need is not donated in time, according to Donate Life NYS. Nationally, 22 people each day die while awaiting a match for a transplant, according to the federal Health Resources and Services Administration.

Every nine minutes, someone is added to the wait list, but one donor can save as many as eight lives and heal 75 lives through tissue and corneal donation. Any New Yorker age 16 and older is eligible to enroll in the Registry. Approximately 41 percent of eligible New York State residents have enrolled to be organ donors through the Registry.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "Even while New York is at the forefront of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, we are working hard to encourage people to be organ, eye and tissue donors. Becoming an organ donor is a decision that not only saves lives, but gives people waiting for a transplant a renewed chance at living active lives."

Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder said, "There is no greater gift than the gift of life. We are proud to offer our customers a chance to register to become organ donors and we hope all New Yorkers will take the opportunity to do so."

Donate Life New York State Executive Director Aisha Tator said, "We know New Yorkers overwhelmingly support organ and tissue donation, so New York Donor Enrollment Day is about turning that support into action and registering as many donors as possible. I know the combined efforts of Donate Life New York State, the donation community, NYS Department of Health and NYS DMV will go a long way to bring hope to the thousands of men, women and children currently waiting for a lifesaving transplant."

LiveOnNY President & CEO Helen Irving said, "New Yorkers have been through a lot this year, but in difficult times we always come together to support one another. We hope this Organ Donor Enrollment Day will inspire more people to learn about the power of organ donation and to have conversations about their end of life wishes. Just as masks save lives, so do life-saving organ donors. Let's come together to bring hope to the nearly 10,000 people in our state still waiting for a transplant."

You can enroll in the NYS Donate Life Registry online through the following online options:

  • The NYS Donate Life Registry website
  • The NYS Department of Motor Vehicles website

Under "Lauren's Law," DMV Customers can also continue to register as an organ donor by completing the donation section of their driver license or non-driver ID renewal application. The law is named for Lauren Shields, a Rockland County resident who received a life-saving heart transplant at age 9. New Yorkers registering to vote can join the Registry by completing that section of the voter registration paper or online form here. New Yorkers seeking health insurance through the NY State of Health Insurance Marketplace can enroll in the Registry here as well.

DMV also offers a Donate Life custom license plate to raise awareness and support critical research. When a consumer orders the plate, $20 of the annual fee is directed to the "Life Pass It On Trust Fund," which is used for organ donation and transplant research and educational programs promoting organ and tissue donation. Plates can be ordered on the DMV website here.

Governor Cuomo signed an Executive Order in 2017 that made increasing the number of registered organ donors a priority, directing the State Health Department to work with all state agencies, Donate Life NYS and other partners, to provide the public with additional opportunities to register as organ donors through the NYS Donate Life Registry. New Yorkers also have the option of becoming an organ donor when applying for various licenses or certifications from the Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of State, or the Department of Health. People may also become an organ donor through the New York State of Health Official Health Plan Marketplace when applying for health insurance, where 246,073 people have enrolled.

More information about becoming an organ donor is available here.