Organ donation could be added to hunting, fishing licenses

A bill that passed the New York state Senate Wednesday would allow those buying or renewing hunting, trapping and fishing licenses to register as an organ donor at the same time.

The bill, which would need to pass in the state Assembly before it could be signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, would amend both state public health and environmental conservation laws.

Current state law allows people to register as organ donors when applying for or renewing a driver’s license or non-driver ID, registering to vote, applying for health insurance through the state marketplace, or through the donate life registry. The bill passed Wednesday (S6963) would mandate that the state Department of Environmental Conservation change its hunting, trapping and fishing license forms to include an opportunity to register as an eye, organ and tissue donor.

The new law would not require anyone to become a donor to receive a license from the DEC.

“The commissioner shall provide, on each form for purchase or renewal of a license … space for the applicant to register in the Donate Life Registry for organ, eye and tissue donations,” the bill reads.

There are currently more than 100,000 people in the U.S. on the list to receive organ transplants, according to the federal Health and Human Services’ Organ Donation and Transplantation statistics. HHS says 95 percent of adults in the U.S. agree with organ donation but only 54 percent are signed up as donors. New York allows anyone 16 or older to register as a donor.

The bill falls in line with a concerted effort by the Cuomo administration to expand organ donation. In 2016, the governor signed a law that allowed 16- and 17-year-olds to register when applying for a driver’s license or learner’s permit, and last year he signed an executive order that required the state Department of Health to work with all other state agencies to expand organ donation opportunities.

Nationally, the HHS says that a person is added to the transplant waiting list every 10 minutes, while 20 people die waiting for a transplant each day.

According to HHS statistics, well over 100 million people are registered as organ donors in the U.S., but the agency also says that only three out of every 1,000 people who die perish in such a way that their organs can be used for donation.

HHS also says one organ donor could save as many as eight lives. According to HHS’ Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, as of Tuesday, 1,409 organ donors had provided organs and tissue for 2,853 transplantations.

Bill S6963 was introduced by state Sen. William Larkin, a Hudson Valley Republican. It passed both the Senate’s health committee and a floor vote of the full Senate unanimously.

For more information, visit www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/s6963.

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