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Coinciding With National Donate Life Month, Thousands of New Yorkers Desperately Wait for 2nd Chance

Contact Information:
Natifia Gaines
(718) 206-6020

March 31, 2008 (Jamaica, NY)-- Jamaica Hospital and the New York Organ Donor Network are appealing to all individuals age 18 years and older in the greater New York metropolitan area to commit to saving lives by enrolling in the New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry during National Donate Life Month throughout April. The month has been designated by the federal government to raise awareness about the need for organ, eye, tissue, blood and bone marrow donors.

Nearly 22,000 desperately ill patients received organ transplants in the United States in 2007 and a total of 6,411 patients lost their lives because of the shortage of organ donors. That is an average of 18 patients who died each day while on the waiting list.

Compared with other states across the nation, New York's donor registry is struggling with organ donation rates. Since its launch in the summer of 2000, only 1.4 million names have been added to the donor registry, that from a population of approximately 19 million.

"We join the Donor Network in calling upon New Yorkers to enroll in the registry because this is the most effective way there is for us to know that someone wishes to be a donor. Donor cards and driver's licenses are not always found in time," said William Lynch, Vice President of Professional and Regulatory Affairs at Jamaica Hospital. "As a place of healing, we witness all too often the suffering of patients who would benefit from transplants. When family members of a potential donor are informed their loved one enrolled in the registry, they feel reassured that they are carrying out his or her wishes, to save lives as that person requested."
Elaine Berg, president and CEO of the New York Organ Donor Network, said the majority of people enroll in the registry when they apply for a driver's license or when renewing their licenses. "However, the average renewal date for licenses in New York State has been extended to every 10 years, and may account in large part for the registry's slow growth. New Yorkers can do better. To each one of them our message is this: Find out more about organ, eye and tissue donation, discuss it with your family, and enroll throughout April in the donor registry. It is easy to do so online."

During National Donate Life Month, and throughout the year, New Yorkers can become organ, eye and tissue donors by enrolling in the Donor Registry at HYPERLINK "http://www.donatelifeny.org" www.donatelifeny.org. Once enrolled in the registry, individuals should inform their next of kin about their decision, so that their decision to donate is honored.

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center serves a population greater than 1.2 million in Queens and eastern Brooklyn. This 387-bed medical center is an accredited community teaching hospital with a large network of community-based ambulatory care centers. JHMC provides general medical, pediatric, and dental services, in addition to home health services. In the last five years, Jamaica Hospital has been recognized several times for its organ donation success. In 2004, the hospital was ranked number one for organ donation in the downstate area and received the distinguished Health and Human Services Department's Organ Donor Medal of Honor last year. For additional information, please contact Public Affairs at 718-206-6020.

The New York Organ Donor Network: Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2008, the New York Organ Donor Network is the second largest of the nation's 58 nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organizations (OPOs). Founded in 1978, the Donor Network is responsible for the recovery of organs, eyes and tissues for transplantation, and public and professional education efforts in the greater New York metropolitan area. It partners with 10 transplant centers, more than 100 hospitals, as well as several eye and tissue banks. The New York Organ Donor Network is fully accredited by the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO). It is a member of the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS).
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