A New York State assemblyman from Buffalo has introduced a bill that would automatically register residents 18 and older as organ and tissue donors unless they choose to opt out of the registry.
Assemblyman Pat Burke (D-Buffalo) said in a statement Saturday that “I’m introducing this legislation because I want to start a conversation about how we can get more people on the organ donation registry, and ultimately save more lives.”
The proposed legislation would make a space on driver’s license applications for applicants to opt out of the donor registry if they wish.
The bill would still allow 16- and 17-year-olds to register to donate their organs, but they would have to opt-in.
According to the press release, New York State currently has the third highest need for organ donors in the U.S., with the second lowest enrollment percentage.
Following public reaction to the bill, Burke released the following statement Saturday evening:
It feels as though clearing up misinformation on the internet has become a large part of my job. I did not submit a proposal to harvest people’s organs after they die and I did not submit a proposal to have an automatic organ donor program for every New Yorker.
This proposal is meant to spark the conversation about the importance of organ donation. If this proposal became law, it would change the question on a New York State driver’s license application from an opt-in question to an opt-out question. Under this proposal, driver’s license applicants over the age of eighteen would have to opt-out by saying “no” to being an organ donor. The application would not be complete until this question was answered.
There are thousands of New Yorkers currently on the waitlist for a life saving organ. I believe this minor alteration on a NYS driver’s license application would increase the amount of people registered as organ donors in our state and could potentially save the lives of people waiting for a donor.
I do not intend to move forward with this proposal until it has earned significant public support, but it is my hope that it draws attention to the need for everyone to register as an organ donor. People can choose to donate the gift of life at https://donatelife.ny.gov/register/.