'Sign Up to Save Lives’ Campaign Launched to Increase Number of Organ Donors in New York
Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center is working with The New York Organ Donor Network in launching a public education campaign, “Sign Up to Save Lives.” The 12-week organ donor drive, which will reach out to residents, workers and visitors is intended to encourage individuals aged 18 and over to register on the New York state Donate Life Registry. In an ongoing campaign region-wide, the Donor Network hopes to gain one million new sign-ups by the end of 2012.
New York state is ranked as having one of the lowest organ donation and registration enrollment rates in the United States. Only 10 percent of eligible New Yorkers, 1.8 million, have signed up for the donor registry; many other states boast of enrollment rates between 60 to 70 percent. The result is that over the past 5 years, 3,390 people in New York state have needlessly died while waiting for organ transplants.
“The bottom line is that if you or a family member, friend, or colleague needs an organ transplant in New York, you have a much longer wait time than in most other states,” said Elaine Berg, president and CEO of the New York Organ Donor Network. “For instance, the average wait on the transplant list for kidneys is five to seven years in New York. For organs in general, there were only 251 deceased organ donors last year in the greater New York metropolitan area. That’s for about 7,500 patients who are in need of a transplant in our region.”
The Donor Network is partnering with area hospitals, businesses, community and religious organizations to distribute registry enrollment forms and inform the public. The grassroots community outreach by Donor Network volunteers, many of whom are donor family members and transplant recipients, will take the donor drive door-to-door in each of the local neighborhoods encouraging all New Yorkers over the age of 18 to sign up for the donor registry. People can also sign up to be donors at www.SaveLivesNewYork.org.
“In today’s economically challenging times, signing up to be a donor is a wonderful thing you can do that doesn’t cost anything. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your racial or ethnic background may be, you can save lives,” Berg said.
FACTS ABOUT THE SHORTAGE OF ORGAN DONORS IN THE GREATER NEW YORK METROPOLITAN AREA: Of the more than 103,500 patients awaiting organ transplants in America, approximately 7,500 live in the greater New York metropolitan area, the area served by the Donor Network.
• There is an average of only 300 deceased organ donors in the entire region per year
• The consent rate for organ donation is around 57 percent, well below the national average of 69 percent.
On average, 18 people die in the United States each day because of the shortage of organ donors. Every 11 minutes, a new name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list. One organ donor (of hearts, livers, kidneys, etc.) can save up to eight lives, and one tissue donor (such as bone, skin and heart valves) can save or improve the lives of as many as 50 people.
The registry is a confidential database of legal consent for donation and it is administered by New York state’s Department of Health. It is only accessed by authorized personnel of the New York Organ Donor Network and tissue and eye banks when there is a potential donor. New Yorkers can register at any Department of Motor Vehicles office or online at www.SaveLivesNewYork.org. For more information, please call, (631) 376-4444.