By Jake Stern
New York has one of the lowest organ donor rates (as a percentage of the population) in the country, which has raised serious concerns about current enrollment practices. According to a 2012 study by the non-profit Donor Life America, New York ranks in the bottom three states for donor registration with 18% of adults signed up compared with a national average of 42.7%. The same study found Alaska, Montana, and Washington to have the highest registration rates as a percentage of the population (79%, 79%, and 75% respectively). Many claim that New York’s low rates are a consequence of the state enrollment system, where individuals are eligible to sign up when they renew their driver’s licenses or register to vote. In states that have the highest sign-up rates, the registries are run by nonprofits as opposed to the government. Presently, 950,000 New Yorkers have indicated intent to donate but lack consent of their health care proxies, legal guardians or heirs. Advocates are pushing for this group to give legal consent to add to the 2.5 million organ donors who have formally signed up since the database was established. A study from Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield asserts that 539 New Yorkers died awaiting a transplant last year while and that 8,667 people are on New York’s list for a kidney and 1,352 for a liver. Almost 1,500 of them have been waiting over five years.
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