WXXI AM News

Advocates Seek Expansion of Organ Donor Law

Apr 14, 2016

There are currently 445 people in the Rochester - Finger Lakes region awaiting an organ transplant.

April is "National Donate Life Month", and advocates are encouraging adults 18 and older to consider registering as an organ donor.

Rob Kochik, executive director of the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network, says making that decision can not only save a life, it can remove a burden from your family members.             

"When we check and find that the patient has already given their legal consent for donation, families are relieved that they don't have to make that decision and they know what their loved one's wishes are,” he said. “Unfortunately, all too often, we also hear someone say, 'Well, I guess he or she didn't want to do that because they never told us, so we'll say no.' "

Thirty-three percent of those eligible are registered organ donors in our 20-county region.  That's compared to the national rate of 52 percent.

Kochik is hoping that state lawmakers consider a proposal to allow 16 and 17 year olds to register.  Currently, only those 18 and older may do so.

"They would give their indication or their intent to be a donor, but it would still require, and rightfully so, parental consent until they turn 18."

Those who wish to donate their organs can make that known in a health care proxy or a living will, but most simply indicate their wishes through the Department of Motor Vehicles registration process. New York is the only state that allows people to register as organ donors when they register to vote.