New York Ranks Last in Number of Organ Donors

April is "Donate Life Month" encouraging Americans to register as an organ donor. New York currently ranks lasts in the entire nation for percent of residents registered. N-C-C News reporter Gabriella Rusk has more on why this is.

By Gabriella Rusk SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News)  – April is “Donate Life Month”, encouraging Americans to register as an organ donor.

New York has the 3rd highest need for organs, but the 3rd lowest donor registration rate.

The main reason for this is the paperwork involved to register, says Nancy Ryan, Director of Marketing and Community Relations for the FingerLakes Donor Recovery Network.

To register as an organ donor in the State of New York, you have to be eighteen years old. Unlike other states, which have a donor registration age of sixteen or seventeen.

If you register at the DMV, you are mailed a form in the mail confirming your intent to be an organ donor. Then, you have to mail that form back before you are fully registered.

“It’s not that New Yorkers aren’t generous,” she says. “It’s that extra step that we think is hindering folks from signing up.”

While some states have online platforms to register residents, a New Yorker must visit the Department of Health website. Then download and print out a form, fill it out, and mail it back.

Ryan says she encourages families to have the conversation about becoming an organ donor, especially if you aren’t registered.

There are a few staggering statistics about organ donation:

  • On average, 18 people die every day waiting on an organ transplant; in New York, someone dies every 18 hours .
  • Every ten minutes, another name is added to a transplant waiting list
  • More than 120,000 Americans are waiting for an organ transplant

Education about organ donation is what’s most important year-round for organ procurement organizations, like FingerLakes Donor Recovery Network.

“Every single person on that waiting list is a human being with a family and a story and a life to live,” Ryan says.

“It’s pretty powerful stuff.”