Top 12 Facts about Becoming an Organ Donor

Apr 9, 2015
NEW YORK - 

Every year, thousands of Americans die waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant because there just aren’t enough organ donors.

Only 24 percent of New Yorkers are registered organ donors, compared with 50 percent nationally. There are many myths and misconceptions about organ donation that prevent people from becoming donors.

Top 12 facts about becoming an organ donor:

  • There are four ways to become an organ donor in New York: you can check off the donor box on your driver’s license application or renewal form, register online at donatelifeny.org, sign up when you register to vote or when you apply for a NYC Municipal ID.
  • Very few medical conditions disqualify you from donating organs and tissues. While certain organs may not be suitable for transplant, other organs and tissues are fine.
  • It is possible to donate to someone who is not a relative and to someone from another racial or ethnic group.
  • There are no costs directly related to donation.
  • Joining a donor registry and indicating you are an organ donor on your driver’s license are important steps to take, but it is equally important to make your family, friends, and doctors aware of your wishes.
  • Most major religions publicly endorse organ donation as the highest gesture of humanitarianism, including Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, and most branches of Judaism such as Conservative, Reform and Orthodox.
  • Age isn’t a factor in all donations. Organs have been transplanted from donors in their 70s and 80s, and even 92-year-olds have donated their livers in the United States.
  • The medical professionals caring for a patient do everything possible to save the patient's life and have nothing to do with transplant and organ donation. Once a patient becomes a potential organ donor, a separate team will discuss this option with the caregivers.
  • Although you must be 18 years of age to sign up on the New York State Donate Life Registry, parents or guardians can authorize organ donation for their children.
  • The organ transplant waiting list is blind to wealth and celebrity status. People receive organs based on the severity of the illness, time spent on the waiting list and blood type.
  • Donating an organ will not delay funeral arrangements or change any funeral plans. Open-casket viewing is possible after any type of donation.
  • Transplant success rates increase when organs are matched between members of the same ethnic background.

Organ Transplantation at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

The organ transplantation program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital — which includes NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia and The Rogosin Institute — is the most active program of its kind in the nation, offering comprehensive and personalized care for the heart, liver, pancreas, kidney and lung. With outcomes ranked among the nation’s best, the Hospital is dedicated to improving quality of life for its patients. NewYork-Presbyterian’s dedicated teams of surgeons and physicians are responsible for many significant advances made over the past several decades in transplant surgery and the maintenance of healthy organs. The Hospital has been on the forefront of developing and improving anti-rejection medications (immunosuppressants), minimally invasive surgery for living donors, genetic methods to detect transplant rejection, strategies to increase opportunities for donor matching, islet cell transplantation and the FDA-approved left ventricle assist device (LVAD), which functions as a bridge to transplantation for those who are waiting for a new heart.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, based in New York City, is one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive hospitals and a leading provider of inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine. With some 2,600 beds and more than 6,500 affiliated physicians and 20,000 employees, NewYork-Presbyterian had more than 2 million visits in 2013, including close to 15,000 infant deliveries and more than 310,000 emergency department visits. NewYork-Presbyterian comprises six campuses: NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/Westchester Division and NewYork-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital. The hospital is also closely affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian/Lawrence Hospital. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area, according to U.S. News & World Report, and consistently named to the magazine’s Honor Roll of best hospitals in the nation. Affiliated with two world-renowned medical schools, Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, NewYork-Presbyterian is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education and community service. For more information, visit www.nyp.org.

LiveOnNY

Founded in 1978, LiveOnNY [formerly New York Organ Donor Network] is the second largest of the nation’s 58 nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organizations (OPOs). LiveOnNY is responsible for the recovery of organs, eyes and tissues for transplantation, and public and professional education efforts in the greater New York metropolitan area. It serves a highly diverse population in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island, Long Island, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Westchester and Pike County, PA. LiveOnNY partners with 10 transplant centers, more than 90 hospitals, as well as several eye and tissue banks. By law, hospitals are required to notify LiveOnNY of all in-hospital deaths or imminent deaths. The agency has highly trained staff whose primary role is to ensure that families carry out the legally binding consent decisions of their loved ones to be donors. When there is no prior legal documentation of consent, LiveOnNY seeks authorization for donation from the legal next of kin. The agency works closely with hospital personnel to recover suitable organs, eyes and tissues, and it also offers follow-up care and referrals to all donor families. Organs recovered for transplant are hearts, kidneys, livers, lungs, pancreas, and intestines. Also recovered are whole eyes or corneas and the following tissues: heart valves, cardiovascular tissue, bone and soft musculoskeletal tissue, and skin. LiveOnNY is fully accredited by the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO). It is a member of the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS).

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