September 27, 2006
Local news media recently carried accounts of a 35-year-old man from the Jamestown area, Paul Cardinale, who received a kidney from 34-year-old William Thomas of Kodiak, Alaska. Mr. Thomas learned about the Western New Yorker’s search for a kidney via the Internet and volunteered to donate one of his own kidneys.
It’s a heartwarming story of selflessness and courage, and we wish both men full recoveries and long and happy lives. It is also very much the exception to the rule. Most people who need organ or tissue transplants go on a national list and then wait for a call letting them know that the death of someone else is being transformed by a generous donor into an organ donation that truly is a gift of life. Far too many die still waiting for that call.
For the thousands of New Yorkers awaiting organ and tissue transplants, their futures and their very lives depend on our finding ways to increase rates of organ donation. I am very happy to be able report that the governor recently signed into law legislation I introduced for exactly that purpose.
The new statute will make the New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, which has proven its worth since it was written into state law two years ago by legislation I sponsored, a stronger force for increasing the number of New Yorkers who are able to benefit from organ donation. Currently, New York State residents can use the registry – via the Internet or space provided on drivers license applications and renewals – to indicate their intent to donate their organs but not their consent. When the new law takes effect in approximately six months, New Yorkers will be able to use the state registry to give their legal consent to donate their organs and/or tissues upon their death.
Under the terms of the legislation, the State Health Department will be required to contact all those who arecurrently on the registry and explain the new law, giving them the opportunity to change their registration.
Individuals who register will be able to specify which organs and tissues they want to donate and whether the donation can be used for transplantation, research or both.
More information on the New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry and enrollment procedures are
available online at www.health.state.ny.us. If you don’t have Internet access and want to know more, please contact my office.
None of us knows when we or someone close to us may be added to the list of those waiting for organ or tissue transplants. If you have not yet made a personal decision on organ donation, I hope you will consider doing so and giving hope to those whose lives depend on others who choose to give “the gift of life.”