More teens in New York State will soon have the right to choose organ donation thanks to a new bill signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The bill authorizes 16- and 17-year olds to state their intent to make posthumous organ donations. Parents or legal guardians are allowed to rescind the authorization should the minor die before the age of 18.
"With thousands of New Yorkers still waiting for the gift of life, we continue to focus on making organ and tissue donations available to all those in need," Cuomo said. "By authorizing 16- and 17-year-olds to make the selfless decision to become an organ donor, we take another significant step to grow the state's Donate Life registry and create opportunities to save lives."
Prior to the new legislation that will take effect in early 2017, the minimum age for organ donation was 18. Other states, like Pennsylvania, allow teens to sign up when they apply for a driver’s license or learner’s permit with the caveat that parents have the final say if their child dies before the age of 18.
According to the New York Alliance for Donation, there are nearly 10,000 New Yorkers on the national organ transplant waitlist. Of that number, 1,800 have been waiting for more than five years. Opening up the registry to 16- and 17-year-olds will expand the number of donors available to people who need a transplant.
“New York is in the midst of a public health crisis where the need for organs for transplant far exceeds the supply,” Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz said. “The state can now reach out to more people and do a better job to promote organ donation. One single organ donor can save the lives of eight people.”