Carlucci seeks funding to promote organ donation

Legislative Gazette photo by Nadine Cafaro
Dave Gray, a beneficiary of a heart transplant, stands with Sen. David Carlucci, right, to call for restoring funding for Donate Life, a program that promotes organ donation in New York.

Rockland County Senator David Carlucci is hoping to restore funding to promote organ donation in New York state.

Carlucci, D-New City, stood with advocates from Donate Life on Monday, February 3 to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his fellow lawmakers to find $725,000 to address a deficiency in organ donation in New York.

According to the New York State Association of Counties, only 18 percent of New Yorkers age 18 and over have enrolled in New York’s Donate Life Registry, compared to the national average of 42 percent.

In addition to falling behind the national average in donor registrations, New York has the third highest number of people on the organ donation waiting list in the nation, with 9,677 New Yorkers currently awaiting a transplant.

Increased funding for the Donate Life program would be used to both educate New Yorkers about organ donation and the stigmas surrounding it, as well as help to increase enrollment in the New York State Donate Life Registry.

Carluicci sponsored Lauren’s Law, which requires a person to answer yes or no to becoming an organ donor when applying for a driver’s license, as opposed to being able to skip the question. Carlucci said the law has helped increase the state’s average of organ donors by more than 9 percent since it’s passage in 2012.

But the list of those awaiting an organ donation is still growing.

“The issue now is that we have around 9,600 New Yorkers that are currently waiting for a life saving organ transplant,” Carlucci said. “Unfortunately people pass away every day simply waiting for that life-saving transplant.”

According to Donate Life, 22 people die each day in the United States awaiting their organ transplant.

Heart transplant recipient and volunteer Dave Gray was at the event in the Capitol to emphasize the importance of organ donation registration.

“I’ve known at least four to five different folks who we’ve lost over the last four years while volunteering down [at Westchester Medical Center] waiting for their precious organ,” Gray said.

The push for increased budget allocation comes after the 2019 state budget slashed funding for the program, down to $500,000, following funding increases in both 2017 and 2018 that provided $725,000 to fund organ donation programs.

“A great crisis needs great investment. So we’re asking the Legislature to restore the funding from 2017 and 2018. “We need visionary funding…because people are counting on us,” said Aisha Tator, the executive director of Donate Life New York State.