Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, Steuben County Clerk Judy Hunter, Chairman of the Steuben County Legislature Joseph Hauryski and Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler organized a press conference at the local DMV office in Corning Friday to encourage area residents to register as organ and tissue donors.
The officials are joining elected leaders, organ donation activists, donor families and recipients across the country in marking April as National Donate Life Month.
The officials highlighted their coordinated efforts to incentivize enrollment and to make registration as easy and convenient as possible. Steuben County’s “lifesaver” initiative recognizes new donors with a lifesaver card they can post to encourage their families and friends to sign up to give the gift of life.
In recent years, Palmesano has cosponsored and helped pass important organ donation legislation, including Lauren’s Law, which allows individuals to register to be an organ donor when applying for or renewing their drivers license, along with a bill allowing 16-and 17-year-olds to declare their intent to become donors. Most recently, he was supportive of the public-private partnership in creation of the new online organ donation registry portal.
“I’m so pleased to partner with county leaders to promote organ and tissue donation. The “lifesaver” initiative is an incredible way to thank residents for choosing to donate life and a wonderful incentive to encourage their friends and neighbors to join them. We’ve been successful at the state level in making it easier and more convenient than ever before to register, and when county governments go above and beyond to raise awareness and promote enrollment, we begin to see results. It is only fitting that we are here at our local DMV office where residents can walk right in and register to become an organ donor. I would like to thank the staff here and at local DMV offices across the county and state who work so hard to promote the important issue of organ donation. This issue is important to me personally, and I know that we won’t stop until New York state assumes its rightful place as a national leader in organ and tissue donation.” said Palmesano.
“April is Donate Life Month and we are excited to continue working with Donate Life NYS on a countywide basis to encourage residents to become organ and tissue donors. New York state has the third highest need for donors nationally and ranks second form the bottom in registered donors. While approximately 43% of Steuben County residents age 18 and above are registered donors, we can do better. I am pleased to partner with Assemblyman Palmesano, County Manager Wheeler and Chairman Hauryski in bringing this program to the attention of our residents,” said Hunter.
“While April is National Organ Donation month, people should consider registering as donors every month of the year,” said Hauryski, (R-Campbell). “The value of organ donors’ generosity is immeasurable.”
“Thousands of people’s lives are extended and enhanced through organ donations,” said Wheeler. “We applaud the generosity of organ donors and urge others to register through the DMV to become donors.”
The officials noted that one person who donates at the time of their death can save eight lives and impact 75 more through eye and tissue donations.
The statewide statistics are sobering. Nearly 9,500 New Yorkers are waiting for a transplant. 1,700 of them have been waiting for more than five years. Last year, 450 New Yorkers died waiting for a transplant.
The advocacy is needed: New York states donation rate of 30% lags far behind the national average of 54%. Though Steuben County’s donation rate of 43% shows good progress, all of the officials noted there is still important work to do.
“The fact that we’ve eclipsed the state average shows how hard our county officials are working to promote this. They do a phenomenal job,” said Palmesano. “However, none of us are satisfied with 43%. We’re going to keep fighting for this.”
Palmesano’s sister Teresa, to whom Palmesano donated a kidney in 2006, was a two-time organ transplant recipient.
The easiest and quickest way to register is to log onto donatelife.ny.gov/register and sign up online, or, of course, visit your local DMV office.