More than 8,500 New York state residents are waiting for an organ transplant that can save their life, according to a review of state data by Univera Healthcare. Unfortunately, time will run out for around 500 of them, as that is the average number of New Yorkers who die each year before a compatible organ becomes available.
“These aren’t just statistics, but rather our loved ones, coworkers, and neighbors,” says Lorna Fitzpatrick, MD, Vice President Medical Affairs and Senior Medical Director at Univera Healthcare. “We can increase their odds for a successful donor match by increasing the number of people who register to be donors.”
In New York state, the need for donors is among the highest of any state in the union, but just 45 percent of state residents who are eligible have enrolled in the Donate Life Registry.
All New York state residents age 16 and older can enroll to donate their organs, eyes, and/or tissues after their death. One organ donor can save 8 lives and heal 75 more through eye and tissue donation.
- Donatable organs include the heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines.
- Donatable tissues include the eyes/corneas, skin, heart valves, bone, blood vessels, nerve, cartilage and connective tissues.
Following registration, donors receive a letter or email providing information on how to change or limit their donation. Registration is a legal document ensuring the person’s wish to be a donor is carried out. Family will be told of the decision and given information about the process, but their permission is not needed for the donation to proceed.
“It has never been easier to enroll in the organ donor registry, which is why we’ve seen participation increase over the past few years to 45 percent,” says Mark Simon, President & CEO of ConnectLife, Western New York’s only organ, eye, tissue, and community blood center. “Still, we only have a commitment from less than half of those who are eligible to donate. Many more lives can be saved if we can get more people involved.”
New York state has simplified the process to register as an organ and tissue donor, including allowing registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles when you apply for a driver’s license or permit, through the Board of Elections when you register to vote, and through the New York State of Health marketplace when you sign up for, or renew, a health insurance plan. You can also complete a paper or online registration form, or check to see if you’ve already registered to be an organ donor.
Find more information on organ donation and the donor registry.
Peter Kates, (716) 857-4485
Univera Healthcare is a nonprofit health plan that serves members across the eight counties of Western New York. With more than 500 Buffalo-based employees and a local leadership team, the company is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce to foster innovation and better serve its members. It also encourages employees to engage in their communities by providing paid volunteer time off as one of many benefits. Univera is part of a Rochester-based health insurer that serves more than 1.5 million members across upstate New York. Its mission is to help people live healthier and more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care, and its products and services include cost-saving prescription drug discounts, wellness tracking tools and access to telemedicine. To learn more, visit UniveraHealthcare.com.