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April is National Donate Life Month

Author: Douglas Hoover/Friday, April 5, 2019/Categories: General, Legislature

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LOCKPORT― It’s the beginning of April, as the fresh spring air brings a renewed sense of life to Western New York, it brings with it National Donate Life Month.  

During the month of April, Americans are encouraged to consider becoming an organ donor and giving the gift of life. Yesterday, Chairman of Legislature Wm. Keith McNall, Niagara County Clerk Joseph Jastrzemski, and Legislator Rebecca Wydysh raised the “Donate Life” flag in front of the Niagara County Courthouse which will be displayed for the entire month to show support.  This year’s theme is “Life is a Beautiful Ride.”

New York State has the third greatest need for donors in the United States, yet it has the second lowest donor registry enrollment in the country.  Only 32 percent of all residents age 18 and older registered to become organ and tissue donors, compared to the national average of over 50 percent.

“Donate Life Month reminds us the importance of organizations like UNYTS and what they do each and every day in our community to save lives,” said Chairman of Niagara County Legislature, Wm. Keith McNall. 

Niagara County has been moving in the right direction over the past few years in getting more people registered as organ donors.  Back in 2015, the percentage of registered donors was at 46 percent.  Currently, in 2019, there has been a noticeable increase.

“One of the things I am most proud of under my leadership and hard work of our staff in our DMV offices is that we have increased the registry rate from 46 percent to 50.8 percent with 85,982 individuals enrolled in the New York State Donate Life Registry ― successfully bringing Niagara County closer to being above the national average,” Niagara County Clerk Joseph Jastrzemski stated.

The need for organ donors has never been greater.  In New York State there are approximately 9,500 people waiting for an organ transplant.  Approximately, 1,700 of those people have been on the waiting list for more than five years.  In 2017, 400 New Yorkers died due to a shortage of donors.

For those already registered as donors, or those looking for additional ways to help, please remember that blood donations are also needed.

“I sponsor several UNYTS blood-drives in my district throughout the year and we are currently organizing more drives to expand the outreach, encouraging everyone to register and donate,” noted Legislator Rebecca Wydysh, R- Lewiston, who also serves as chair of the Community Services Committee.

In New York State, anyone 16 and older can enroll. Stop in at one of your Niagara County DMV office locations and complete an enrollment card to register to be an organ donor, even if you don’t need anything changed on your license.

Another way is to enroll online at donatelife.ny.gov.  No matter which method you choose to enroll, you will receive confirmation by mail from the New York State Department of Health that you are a designated donor.  At that time, you can specify which organs and tissues you may wish to exclude as a donor.

If you are interested in registering or would like more information, visit donatelifeny.org.

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