On April 16, 2013, over 60 people participated in the annual Legislative Education Day to highlight organ, eye and tissue donation in New York State. The event was sponsored by the New York Alliance for Donation (NYAD), whose mission is to increase organ, eye and tissue donation throughout New York State. The group included representatives of the State's procurement organizations, other non-profit groups interested in donation and transplantation issues, volunteers, transplant recipients, living donors, and donor families.
The day began with a morning program featuring Senator David Carlucci and Assemblyman Félix Ortiz. The Senator and Assemblyman provided insight into the value of educating state legislators about the need for organ, eye and tissue donors in New York State. In 2012, Senator Carlucci and Assemblyman Ortiz sponsored Lauren’s Law [link to NYAD Lauren’s Law article] named after pediatric heart recipient, Lauren Shields. Lauren’s Law will require anyone over the age of 18 applying for or renewing a driver license to answer whether they would like to join the New York State Donate Life Registry. Also highlighted during the morning program was the story of pediatric kidney transplant recipient Rachel Adler [link to Rachel’s story], told by her brother Jacob. Due to the lack of available organs in New York, Rachel was listed out of state or she would likely have faced a wait of nearly five years to receive a kidney.
Following the morning program, the group was invited to the Assembly chamber to listen to the reading of a resolution sponsored by Assemblyman Phillip Palmesano memorializing Governor Andrew Cuomo to proclaim April 2013 as Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Month in the State of New York.
NYAD volunteers personally visited with nearly seventy of New York's legislators to educate them about the importance of organ, eye and tissue donation and share their experiences with donation. Packets of information about donation and transplantation were distributed to the legislators which highlighted the fact that 10,000 New Yorkers are on the waiting list for an organ and that only 21% of adults over age eighteen are enrolled in the New York State Donate Life Organ and Tissue Donor Registry. The packets also included information on the benefits of transplantation and facts about donation.
NYAD called on the legislature to support the donation community and save lives by granting the organization administrative rights to the New York State Donate Life Organ and Tissue Donor Registry through an innovative public/private partnership with the Department of Health. NYAD’s primary purpose in proposing to administer the Registry is to save lives by creating a highly-functioning, user-friendly, and well-publicized Registry. NYAD has been working collaboratively with the Department of Health, the Governor’s office, and the Chairs of the Health Committees to implement this creative partnership and will be looking for legislative support in enacting legislation to allow for this new partnership to thrive.
One of the highlights of the day took place when NYAD, along with Lauren Shields and her mother Jeanne, were invited into the Assembly Chamber to honor Lauren and her contribution to advancing NYAD’s mission of increasing organ, eye and tissue donation in New York State.
The day was a great celebration of life and our message was very well received by those we visited. A huge thank you to all who participated and helped out to make the day a success.
To see pictures from the day, click here.