COLUMN: Organ donors can register online; one donor has potential to save eight lives

— During the online sign-up process, prospective donors will be required to provide basic information found on their license or non-driver ID including date of birth, zip code and last four digits of the Social Security number. Organs for life-saving transplants include heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, pancreas and small intestine. Examples of tissues that could save or enhance someone's life include eyes and corneas, heart valves, bones and skin grafts.

Those who register through the web site do not need to print, sign and mail their registration application to the New York State Department of Health, which maintains the Donate Life Registry. Donors can still sign up by mail or at any DMV office. And, while most donors enroll through the DMV when they get or renew their driver licenses or non-driver ID cards, potential donors can sign up anytime.

Here are some important facts about organ donation, according to the Donate for Life web site:

  • Most major religions publicly endorse organ donation as the highest gesture of humanitarianism including Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam and most branches of Judaism. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with your faith's position on donation, talk to a member of your clergy.
  • There are very few medical conditions that would automatically disqualify you from donating any organs and tissues so don't disqualify yourself. It may turn out that while certain organs are not suitable for transplant, other organs and tissues are fine.
  • Family members are never held responsible for any costs related to donation.
  • Although it is important to join a donor registry and indicate that you are an organ donor on your driver's license, it is equally important to speak with your family, friends and doctors about your decision, so that they are aware of your wishes.
  • Your medical history is more important than your age. Organs have been transplanted from donors in their 70s and 80s and even 92-year-olds have donated their livers in the United States.
  • Although you must be 18 years of age to sign up on the New York State Donate Life Registry, parents or guardians can authorize this decision for their children who would like to register.
  • 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 in no way delay funeral arrangements or change any funeral plans.
  • Open casket viewing is possible after any type of donation.
  • It is possible to donate to someone who is not a relative and even to someone from another racial or ethnic group. However transplant success rates do increase when organs are matched between members of the same ethnic background. A lack of organ donation among ethnic populations can lead to longer wait times for individuals within that ethnic group.

Assemblyman Will Barclay represents residents of Assembly District 124, which includes Lysander. He can be reached by mail at 200 North Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by phone (598-5185).

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