SBU Students Push for Organ Donor Registration During National Organ Donor Awareness Month
Senators John Flanagan, Kenneth LaValle join effort in memory of late colleague James Conte
STONY BROOK, NY, April 19, 2013 – A group of Stony Brook University students helped register 118 of their fellow classmates to become organ donors in conjunction with Organ Donor Awareness Month at the annual Earthstock festival on the Stony Brook University campus on April 19.
The students were supported in their efforts by the New York Organ Donor Network (NYODN) and New York State Senators Kenneth P. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and John J. Flanagan (R-East Northport), who honored the late New York State Assemblyman James D. Conte (R-Huntington Station) for his passionate advocacy of organ donation.
A graduate of SBU, Conte was a two-time kidney transplant recipient before his death at age 53 in October 2012. He was a strong advocate and a leader in advancing organ, eye and tissue donation, including sponsoring legislation to ensure New Yorkers were able to document their wishes to be organ donors on the New York State Donate Life Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation Registry. Among many bills, he sponsored Lauren’s Law, aimed at increasing organ donor enrollment, which was unanimously passed by the Legislature in June 2012 and signed into law by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in October 2012.
“James was a proud alumnus of Stony Brook University and a leader in the Legislature on this issue who was a transplant recipient himself,” Sen. Flanagan said. “I am proud to join with my Senate colleague Kenneth LaValle, NYODN and the students of Stony Brook University to promote this important cause and hope that you will be able to join the effort to save lives.”
“An organ donation is an invaluable gift that any one of us can give to a loved one or a stranger,” Sen. LaValle said. “Organ donation can save a life and change a life. There's no greater legacy.”
“The New York Organ Donor Network applauds Senators John Flanagan and Kenneth P. LaValle, and the students of Stony Brook University for continuing the great work of the late Assemblyman Jim Conte,” said Helen Irving, President and CEO of the New York Organ Donor Network. “Jim was a tireless advocate for organ donation in New York State. The students as well as the Senators are part of an important movement to increase organ donor enrollment in New York. On behalf of the 10,000 New Yorkers waiting for a life-saving transplant, we say thank you.”
The NYODN is targeting those ages 18-35 to become organ donors through its current marketing campaign, called “Hate the Wait.” It is estimated that a New Yorker dies every 15 hours waiting for an organ donation, according to NYODN officials. Only 21 percent of New Yorkers age 18 and over have signed the state's organ donor registry, compared with a national average of 45 percent who have signed donor registries in other states.
SBU students who helped organize the registration drive were Maggie Knight, Tabitha Yim, Peter Sheh and Nick Serrano. The students registered 118 of their classmates for the New York State Donate Life Organ and Tissue Donor Registry in just four hours’ time before inclement weather curtailed the event.
“I couldn't think of a better place to bring the ‘Hate the Wait’ Campaign than Stony Brook,” said Knight, a 22-year-old senior in the Stony Brook School of Nursing from Newburgh, NY, who is majoring in nursing and anthropology. “This campus has become a leader in so many life-changing initiatives, and the Organ Donor Registry has become one of them.”
“The other students and I are thrilled to be a part of such an incredible initiative and we know that Stony Brook will make a difference in the lives of those waiting for a donor,” said Tabitha Yim, 21, a senior nursing student from Queens, NY.
Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH) was first hospital on Long Island to perform kidney transplants on Long Island when its kidney transplant program began in 1981. SBUH is still the only state-designated hospital in Suffolk County to perform kidney transplants.
Every year, more than 1,500 people receive kidneys, livers, and hearts that have been donated for transplantation. However, with more than 10,000 New Yorkers still on waiting lists, the need for organ donations far exceeds the supply. One person who donates organs (hearts, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas and intestine) can save up to eight lives, while tissue donors (corneas, bone, skin, heart valves, tendons, veins, etc.) can improve 12 or more lives by restoring eyesight, helping fight infections in burn patients and prevent the loss of mobility and disability.
Currently, the waiting list nationwide has nearly 118,000 patients waiting for a lifesaving transplant, including more than 96,000 patients who are in need of kidney transplants.
In Suffolk County, a total of 282,206 people are enrolled in the New York State Donate Life Organ and Tissue Donor Registry. By enrolling in the registry, you give legal consent for the recovery of your organs, tissues and eyes for the purposes of transplantation and research at the time of your death. For more information, visit www.donatelifeny.org.
PHOTO CAPTION: Left to right, Stony Brook University students who helped recruit classmates to sign up for the New York Organ Donor Registry included Derek Cope, a senior at Stony Brook School of Nursing, Kenneth Yee, a senior health sciences major, Amanda Pelczynski, a sophomore health sciences major, and Maggie Knight, a senior nursing student. New York State Senators Kenneth P. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and John J. Flanagan (R-East Northport) supported their efforts in honor of the late New York State Assemblyman James D. Conte (R-Huntington Station), for his passionate advocacy of organ donation.
About the New York Organ Donor Network: