Proposal Would Make Organ Donation an Opt-Out Process

Presently New York law requires people to sign up for organ donation

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    Right now about 10,000 people in New York City are waiting for someone, most likely a stranger, to save their life.

    Right now about 10,000 people in New York City are waiting for someone, most likely a stranger, to save their life.

    At any given time at least that many New Yorkers are on the national waiting list for an organ transplant, according to the New York Organ Donor Network. Now, one group wants to lower that number and they’re looking to regular people to make that happen.
    “The waiting lists are enormous and many, many patients don’t get the organs they need,” said Douglas Cohen, a neuro-surgeon at St Luke’s-Roosevelt hospital.
    Although Cohen is not a part of the Coalition made up of lawmakers, doctor's, and the Organ Donor Network, but he couldn’t agree more with its cause. Today, New Yorkers, like the rest of Americans, are given the option of opting into organ donation when he or she gets a drivers license. The coalition wants to reverse that, making becoming a donor “opt out.”

    That means when you get your license, you need to actively say, "No, I do not want to donate my organs when I die”. If you do not,  you’re presumed to be willing to donate.

    As it stands now, only about 11 percent of eligible New Yorkers are organ donors. Dr. Cohen believes that number would be higher if New York did become an “opt out” state.

    “In general if the passive route involves the most good, then its probably better to set up a system in that fashion, because people will end up doing what’s passive which is what’s right," Cohen said.

    But when it comes to matters of a person's own body, nothing is simple and not everyone will agree. Manhattan resident Boris Vischnevski thinks it's a bad idea.

    “It’s pretty stupid," Vischnevski said. "You can't put somebody on the list just because they don’t give you an answer. It’s unethical”

    On the religious end, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, of the New York Board of Rabbis, argues that spiritual concerns wouldn’t necessarily clash with a new law like this -- so long as the DMV makes the options clear.
    “If your family member was in dire need of that organ what would your position be?” asked Potasnik.
    Currently, the legislation to "opt out" has more than a dozen sponsors in Albany.