Changes in NY Policy Could Help Lift State's Organ Donation Rate from Second Lowest in Country

Oct 7, 2016


Difficulty enrolling as an organ donor might be keeping many in Central New York and across the State from making that lifesaving decision.  New York’s 26 percent registration rate is second lowest in the country. Nancy Ryan of the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network says the state has to give potential donors more options to register.

“In New York State, the DMV cycle is about every eight years so in the meantime New Yorkers are busy and by the time they actually get to the DMV they are thinking about other things," Ryan said. "They want to just get their transaction done and leave. And it’s a misunderstanding that the department of motor vehicles is the only place that New Yorkers can register as an organ donor.”

Ryan says there are other ways to register as an organ donor, such as a printable form sent to the state Health Department or with voter registration.   But Ryan says there is movement to make entirely online registration possible.

“In this electronic day and age, when most people are familiar with doing something completely online, New York State still has this element of a paper form that needs to be filled out with a hand written signature on it and mailed back in to the department of health," Ryan said. "That slows up the process a little bit for New Yorkers.” 


Ryan says another law taking effect in February will allow 16 and 17 year olds receiving their licenses to express their intent to register.  While this states their wishes, Ryan says it still allows the ultimate decision to be in the hands of their parents or guardians.

“At least it’s providing young adults an opportunity to put their wishes down," Ryan said. "We find that the younger population are pretty inspired by organ donation and they want to sign up. Until now they haven’t had that opportunity to mark their wishes down.”

About 600 people in the region are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.  More information about registering as an organ donor is at or