Editor’s Note: See attached Assembly floor speech (https://youtu.be/2KD91dVLbMY)
Last week, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) gave an impassioned speech on the Assembly floor to explain the importance of ‘National Donate Life Month’. During his tenure, Palmesano has championed several successful initiatives to make it easier and more convenient for New Yorkers to register as organ and tissue donors. Notably, Palmesano helped champion and co-sponsored Lauren’s Law, which does not allow the state to process a driver’s license application until “yes” or “skip this question” is checked off in regard to becoming an organ donor. He also has cosponsored legislation to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to register their intent to be an organ donor. Additionally, he supported efforts to establish and create a new online organ donation registry, allowing individuals to answer several questions and then register as an organ donor.
Palmesano said there is still a dire need to increase the state’s organ donation rate.
“The statistics are overwhelming and alarming. New York state still ranks 51st of our 52 states and territories. Nearly 9,000 New Yorkers are on the waiting list for a transplant, and 1,500 of those people have been waiting for at least five years. Tragically, in 2020, nearly 600 New Yorkers died waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. We have the third-greatest need for donors, but the second-worst enrollment rate,” said Palmesano.
Palmesano noted that the national donation rate is 62%, while New York state’s rate is only 43%.
“The most powerful and important statistic everyone should know is that one person who donates at the time of their death can save up to eight lives and impact the lives of 75 more people through eye and tissue donation,” added Palmesano.
Organ donation is a deeply personal issue to Palmesano. His sister Teresa, who suffered from juvenile diabetes, received 2 organ transplants, once from the kindness of a stranger in 2000 and, once in 2006 Palmesano had the privilege to donate a kidney to his sister. Palmesano’s sister died in 2013, but Palmesano said she was still blessed.
“I have seen firsthand how organ donation can impact a family and their quality of life.My sister Teresa was the lucky one; she received two transplants while many never even receive one. I didn’t realize how abysmal organ donation registrations were in New York until I stepped on the floor of the Assembly in 2011,” said Palmesano.
This first-hand experience has given Palmesano a personal perspective into the meaningful effects of organ donation and is why he will continue to advocate for and promote organ and tissue donor awareness in New York state.
"We can, and must, do better. Please help us save lives by signing up to become an organ donor today,” urged Palmesano.
Palmesano said individuals who would like to enroll today can easily do so by logging on to https://donatelife.ny.gov/register.