New York, NY – The New York Organ Donor Network (NYODN), in partnership with Rock The Vote, NYC Votes!, Carry on Community Development Corporation, The LINKS, Hispanic Federation, NAACP, The League of Women Voters of the City of New York, and others today announced the rollout of their first-ever effort to enroll New York residents to be organ and tissue donors through voter registration. New York is the only state in the US to include organ and tissue donor enrollment on voter registration forms. This provides the unique opportunity for more New York residents to sign-up on the Donate Life Registry prior to the November Presidential election.
The need for donated organs is critical in New York State where more than 10,000 residents are currently waiting for life-saving transplants. Every 15 hours a New Yorker dies waiting for an organ transplant. New York has only 19% of eligible residents (age 18 and older) enrolled in the New York State Donate Life Registry (compared to the national state average of 43%).
NYODN seeks to enroll 20,000 organ donors via voter registration across the New York metro area. One organ donor can save up to eight lives and one tissue donor can save or improve 50 lives, making this special initiative the opportunity to save and improve the lives of thousands of New Yorkers.
“Our goal is to save more lives through organ donation. We believe that the opportunity to register organ donors through voter registration will help us do just that. We are excited to embark on this important one-of-a-kind campaign” said Helen Irving, CEO and President of the New York Organ Donor Network.
Organ donor enrollment via voter registration was not available to New Yorkers during the last Presidential election. The bill to include organ donation on the voter registration form, introduced by Senator Kemp Hannon and Assemblyman James Conte, became law in 2008, but was rolled out the following year. Because Presidential elections typically deliver a surge in voter registration, the opportunity to increase the number of registered organ donors this year is great.
“New York State has one of the lowest rates of organ donation in America,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, chair of the Assembly Health Committee, who is registered with the New York State Donate Life donor registry. “The donor enrollment section on the voter registration form is a simple way to get more of us into the registry, and save lives - A big 'thank you' to everyone helping in this drive.”
"I continually stress the importance of becoming a donor because donating an organ is saving a life," said Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau). "This law has made the process of registering for organ donation more convenient. It will not only facilitate donation, but will allow even more people to be able to give the precious gift of life that is organ donation."
To reach their goal, NYODN, with the help of its partners, has enlisted nearly 100 volunteers to engage residents in highly-traffic areas around New York City during key times. Volunteers will work to register voters and sign-up donors in public parks, such as Central Park, Union Square and Washington Square Park, and other busy commuter areas such as Penn Station and Grand Central.
Several of the partners of the New York Organ Donor Network have stressed the importance of enrolling organ donors via voter registration, including:
Mary Lou Urban, the Vice President of The League of Women Voters of the City of New York said, “The League of Women Voters of the City of New York has been conducting a record number of voter registration drives and training events this year. Since 1920, our League members have worked to break down the barriers to voting and encouraged New Yorkers to improve the health of their communities through their vote. As this is the first Presidential election year that New Yorkers can choose to become organ donors we see this as a welcome opportunity for voters to also keep their neighbors in good health.”
"As our nation makes a critical decision this Fall on who should lead us in Washington and in capitols across the country, it is critically important that everyone who can vote is registered, said Jose Calderon, President of Hispanic Federation. “Hispanic Federation is proud to partner with the New York Organ Donor Network to enlist Latinos and other new voters in exercising their civic duty and support efforts to improve organ donation in the process."
“NYC Votes! is delighted to help the New York Organ Donor Network extend its outreach to potential voters and organ donors,” said Onida Coward Mayers, Director of Voter Assistance at the New York City Campaign Finance Board. “Voting and civic engagement are essential elements to building a strong society. The high visibility of a Presidential election provides a wonderful opportunity to expand voter registration.”
Emery Ailes of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity and president of Carry on Community Development Corp, said, “The ability to vote is a right that no one should ever be deprived of exercising, we are proud to be a part of this campaign to increase the number of New Yorkers who take this right seriously.”
“The Pi Kappa Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. is pleased to partner on this effort under the umbrella of our biennial AKA C.A.R.E.S. - Collaborate, Advocate, Register, Educate and Stimulate our communities. Raising awareness on critical issues such as organ donation and voting sends a statement to our local, state and federal leadership and promotes change and progress” said Angela Butler, President of Pi Kappa Omega and Chief Policy Officer, The National Development Council.
About the New York Organ Donor Network
The New York Organ Donor Network is the nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO) for the greater New York Metropolitan area. Established in 1978, the Donor Network is the second largest OPO in the United States, serving a culturally and ethnically diverse population of 13 million people. Working closely with transplant centers and hospitals, we coordinate organ, tissue and eye donation for transplant in the New York region; educate the public and health care professionals about donation and transplantation; promote the importance of signing up on the New York State Donate Life Registry. We work closely with 10 transplant centers, more than 90 hospitals, and various tissue and eye banks. The Donor Network is accredited by the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) and a member of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which oversees the organ transplant waiting list in the U.S.
To register to be an organ donor in New York, please visit www.SaveLivesNewYork.org.