Feb. 14 is National Organ Donor Day

ELMIRA, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - Most of us know February 14th is Valentine's Day, but it's also National Organ Donor Day.

On average, 500 New Yorkers, and 490 Pennsylvanians die in need of an organ transplant each year. Legislative efforts have been made in both states to increase the number of registered donors.

Just last year in New York, a law was passed that allows 16 & 17-year-olds to register as donors. Which is significant because licenses only have to be renewed every eight years. So unless they register as a donor online, they may not be faced with the registration question again until they're 24.

In Pennsylvania, the Donate Life PA Act looks to address the issue by reducing unnecessary denials of organ recoveries, clarifying decision-making authority over donations, increasing public education, and strengthening oversight of the organ donation process.

Still, statistics show only 46 percent of Pennsylvanians are registered as organ donors, and only 29 percent of New Yorkers are registered.

Some believe New York's donor rates are lower because New York hospitals don't have staff members dedicated to scoping out potential donors and approaching families about donating, as they do in Pennsylvania.

Even the majority of those who do register will never become donors, that's because only about 40 percent of transplanted organs come from a living donor, and deceased donors have to have died in a rare way to be eligible to donate. Usually either by a traumatic head injury or cardiac arrest.

When a viable donor does come about, it's an algorithm that decides who the recipient will be. Created by the United Network for Organ Sharing, it takes several factors into account, like distance from donor, length of time on the waiting list, degree of urgency, organ size and biological compatibility.

If you're a Pennsylvania resident looking to register as an organ donor, follow this link. If you're a New York resident looking to register, follow this link.

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