Organ Donation

Facts About Organ and Tissue Donation

  • Nationwide, more than 115,000 people are waiting for organ transplants, yet only about 23,000 received transplants in 2012.
  • On average, 18 people die every day while waiting for organ transplants in the U.S. In New York State, someone dies every 15 hours waiting for an organ transplant.
  • Every 10 minutes, another name is added to the organ transplant waiting list. In New York alone, almost 10,000 people are currently awaiting organ transplants and even more New Yorkers await tissue donations for lifesaving and life-enhancing procedures.
  • Each year, an average of only 260 New Yorkers donate their organs. Clearly, there is a critical shortage of organs needed for lifesaving transplants. One organ donor can save up to eight lives (by donating heart, lungs, liver, kidney, pancreas, and intestines). Without these surgeries, these people will die or remain disabled. One tissue donor (corneas, bone, skin, heart valves, tendons, veins, etc.) can help to save or improve 12 or more lives by restoring eyesight, helping fight infections in burn patients and preventing the loss of mobility and disability.
  • 20% of New Yorkers age 18 and over have enrolled in the New York State Donate Life Registry as organ, tissue and eye donors. Nationwide, the average is 44%.

Anyone Can Become a Donor

All people can be considered as being potential organ, tissue and eye donors after death has been declared. However, the presence of active cancer, active HIV, active infection (for example, sepsis) or Intravenous (IV) drug use would absolutely rule out donation. Patients who have Hepatitis C may still donate organs to a patient who also has Hepatitis C. The same is true for Hepatitis B - but this happens less frequently. Most cancer patients may donate corneas.

The decision to become an organ/tissue donor will not interfere with the health care you receive--saving your life is your health care provider's first priority. Donating your organs does not cost your family anything. Organs and tissues are distributed through federally or state authorized regional organ and tissue banks.

Enroll in the New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry

The New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, launched in 2006, is a confidential database maintained by the New York State Department of Health. The Registry evidences an individual's intent to donate organs/tissues upon his/her death and helps to ease the decision-making process of donation for family members. To enroll:

There are a variety of ways to be an organ, tissue and eye donor in New York State.

  1. At the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): Check off the donor box on your driver’s license application or renewal form, or when applying for or renewing a non-driver identification card. When you enroll through this method, a symbol of a red heart and the words "Organ Donor" will be printed on the front of your driver license or non-driver identification card at no extra cost.
  2. Online via the www.dmv.ny.gov: You may now enroll online through www.dmv.ny.gov. Have ready your driver license or non-driver ID number to log in to this secure service.
  3. By Mail: Download a Donor Registry enrollment form and mail it in. Fill out the Donor Registry enrollment form on this website. Once you’ve filled out the form online, print it, sign it, and mail it to the New York State Department of Health. Printable NYS Donate Life Registry Enrollment Form (PDF, 46KB, 1pg.)
  4. Enroll when you register to Vote: When registering to vote with the Board of Elections, complete and sign page 3. "Register to donate your organs and tissues" of the voter registration form. That page of the form will be forwarded to the NYS Department of Health for enrollment in the Donate Life Registry.

Finally, tell your family about your intention to be an organ and tissue donor. 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. For more information, call an organ procurement organization or the New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry at 1-866-NYDONOR (1-866-693-6667).

More Information

For more information, call the New York Organ Donor Network at 646-291-4444 or visit www.SaveLivesNewYork.org.

To find out about your New York State Donate Life Registry status, to make changes to your enrollment information or to remove your name from the registry, you can do so in any of the following ways:

  1. New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, call 1-866-NYDONOR (1-866-693-6667)
  2. Write: The New York State Donate Life Registry, New York State Department of Health, 433 River Street, Hedley Park Place, Suite 303, 6th Floor, Troy, NY 12180