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Governor Cuomo Announces New Law in Effect Allowing 16 and 17 Year Olds to Register for Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation

Governor Cuomo announced that legislation authorizing 16 and 17 year olds to enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry goes into effect tomorrow, coinciding with National Organ Donor Day.

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Law takes effect in NY on National Organ Donor Day.

Photo by: Kuba Korkowski, via Free Images.

Albany, NY - February 13, 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that legislation authorizing 16 and 17 year olds to enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry goes into effect tomorrow, coinciding with National Organ Donor Day. The new legislation enables this population to enroll in the Registry at the same time they first apply for a driver license, learner permit or non-driver ID, potentially increasing enrollments in New York by thousands.

"This new law is a balanced effort to help in this administration’s efforts to expand state’s donor registry and help more New Yorkers receive the gift of life," Governor Cuomo said. "With this action, we are taking one more step toward a stronger, healthier New York for all."

In August, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to authorize 16 and 17 year olds to register their consent to donate, opening up the organ donor Registry to an entirely new population which will increase Registry enrollment rates.  The new law includes appropriate safeguards that allow parents or legal guardians to rescind the decision if the minor dies before the age of 18.

The New York State Donate Life Registry is a confidential, computerized system that registers an individual's consent to donate his/her organs upon death. Under State law, the Registry can only be accessed to determine an individual's donation status after death and only by a federally approved organ procurement organization or licensed eye and tissue bank. Enrolling to be an organ donor will not affect one's medical care and/or funeral arrangements, and there is no cost to the donor's family.

Commissioner of Health for New York State, Dr. Howard A. Zucker, said, "The best gift a New Yorker can give is the gift of life. Governor Cuomo has made expanding the Donate Life registry a priority and is making it easier than ever to sign up as a donor. This law helps turn tragedy into newfound hope for those needing a donation and I encourage all New Yorkers to take action, and get registered today."

DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan said, "DMV fully embraces Governor Cuomo’s effort to expand access to the New York State Donate Life Registry. Becoming an organ donor is truly a gift that keeps on giving, and this new law has great potential to change numerous lives for the better.  DMV, at our offices and through our website, is proud to be a part of this incredibly important effort."

Senator Kemp Hannon said, “Increasing the number of registered organ donors is of critical importance. I applaud the Governor for signing this important legislation into law and ensuring that 16 and 17 year old New Yorkers are able to take the heroic step of becoming organ donors. With so many in need of this lifesaving gift, the implementation of this new law plays an important role in expanding New York State's Donate Life Registry."

Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz said, “An estimated 600 New Yorkers die every year while waiting for an organ transplant. This new law should result in a greater number of applicants taking the time to consider the opportunity to save a life through organ donation. As 10,000 New Yorkers wait for transplants, the State must do everything in our power to increase the number of registered donors. Enrollment in the Registry should improve and lives will be saved."

In 2012, DMV and the State Department of Health created a new way to enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry online through MyDMV.  During the online sign-up process, prospective donors were required to provide basic information found on their license or non-driver ID including date of birth, zip code, and last four digits of the Social Security number. Procedures and controls built into this process ensure the authenticity, integrity, security and confidentiality. To become a registered donor in New York State, applicants can register when obtaining a driver license or non-driver identification card, or by renewing their driver license by signing the donor box that appears on each of these forms.

In addition, you can register through the New York State Health Department's website or on your voter registration form.

The Department of Health is working to modernize the Registry, allowing for a seamless web-based enrollment experience connected to social media, attracting more potential registrants and enabling registrants to invite their friends and family to enroll. The state will also unveil a new marketing campaign designed to raise awareness of the need for donation and highlight the availability of a wide variety of registration opportunities.

For more information about the Registry, click here.