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Organ Donation in New York: The Gift of Life

Surveys and studies show that most Americans support the gift of life that comes with organ donation, and yet so many of us don't do it. Is it just the difficulty of facing our mortality that keeps us from an act that can save a life, or is it the fear that the process is too complicated, legally or morally? Here are a few questions and answers that might help you decide if organ donation is right for you.

According to the New York Department of Health, more than 8,000 New Yorkers are still on waiting lists for transplants of organs like kidneys, livers, and hearts. One organ donor can save up to eight lives or with tissue donation, can improve 12 or more lives by restoring eyesight, helping fight infections in burn patients and preventing disability.

Question: How do I become an organ donor in the state of New York?

Answer: Enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry through the New York DMV, the New York Department of Health, or through a local donation organization.

Question: What if my religion does not permit donation?

Answer: According to FindLaw, most of the world's major religions recognize donation as a gift of life to others. However, if you are not sure how donation may be viewed by the religion you practice, ask your spiritual adviser whether your religion endorses organ donation.

Question: How can I be sure that my organs will, or if I decide against it, will not, be donated?

Answer: One of the best ways to make sure your organs will be donated, if that is what you wish, is to include directions in your advance directive on health care. If you include your wishes in your will, according to FindLaw, they will usually not be read in time to ensure donation.

Question: Do I need my family's consent?

Answer: According to the New York DMV, if you have singed the consent certification with the NYS Donate Life registry, family consent is not required.

Like all topics touching on end of life issues, organ donation can be difficult to think about. Talk with your family and then consult an estate planning attorney if you want further guidance on the legal requirements for organ donation. Someone out there will be thankful you did.

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