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Employer News | August 2014
Employer News | August 2014

State and Region Lag Nation in Organ Donor Registrations

New York state adults register themselves as organ and tissue donors at less than half the rate of adults nationwide, but the need for lifesaving organs in New York state is among the highest in the country, according to a report issued today by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

While less than half of American adults (48 percent) are registered organ and tissue donors, only 22 percent of New York state adults are on the registry. Upstate New York’s percentage of registered donors (31 percent) is higher than the state number. In the Finger Lakes region, 29 percent of adults (240,000) are registered organ and tissue donors, according to the Excellus BCBS report.

"When I first saw the analysis, I thought this can't be right," said Martin Lustick, M.D., senior vice president and corporate medical director, Excellus BCBS. "Then I realized that the numbers are less about New Yorkers being less inclined to donate organs, and more about the barriers that exist to becoming an organ donor in our state.”

Additional donors on the registry would increase New York state’s adult organ and tissue donor registration participation rate, which currently is lower than rates in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Montana, at 84 percent, has the nation’s highest rate of adult participation, while Puerto Rico (17 percent) and Vermont (18 percent) have the lowest donor registration rates. Thirty-two states each have at least 50 percent of the adult population enrolled as donors.

According to the Excellus BlueCross BlueShield analysis, The Facts About Organ Donor Registration in Upstate New York,(PDF) approximately 10,500 New Yorkers await organ or tissue transplants. They account for nearly 10 percent of the 123,000 Americans on the waiting list maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing, a private, nonprofit organization that contracts with the federal government to manage the nation’s transplant system.

Only California and Texas have more residents than New York state has on the transplant waiting list. Approximately 1,500 New Yorkers have been on the waiting list for five years or longer.


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