New York Needs To Include Organ, Eye, and Tissue Donation In High School Curricula

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The Problem:

  • New York state is the worst place to live if you need an organ transplant. Every eighteen hours someone dies in New York while waiting for a transplant because there are not enough registered organ donors.
  • New York is ranked dead last out of 50 states for registered organ, eye, and tissue donors mostly due to a lack of education & awareness as well as misinformation.
  • Currently, 16-year-olds in New York State are asked to make a decision about becoming an organ, eye, and tissue donor, regardless of whether they are informed or not.
  • Enrolling as an organ, eye, and tissue donor is an important decision that requires information and education in order to make an informed decision.

How Can It Be Solved?:

  • This problem can be solved by implementing organ, eye, and tissue donation education into New York State’s high school curricula to educate teens on the issue, dispel many of the myths that exist about donation and stimulate conversation about the importance of saving and improving lives.
  • Educating students on the importance of organ, eye, and tissue donation would increase the number of New Yorkers who enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry.
  • In the majority of New York public schools, organ, eye, and tissue donation is not a topic that students are taught. By implementing organ donation into the health or science curricula, students will be able to make an informed decision when they are asked if they want to become a donor. There is already an approved NYS Regents curriculum on Organ Donation/Transplantation available for high schools to implement today (link attached below).
  • NJ’s “Hero Act” -  We are well behind our neighboring state in implementing organ, eye, and tissue donation education. New Jersey passed the Hero Act in 2008, which requires each public high school in NJ to ensure that information about organ and tissue donation is included in the Core Curriculum Content Standards for Comprehensive Health and Physical Education for grades 9-12. NJ’s age to register is still 18 and yet they mandate education for their youth, while New York requires 16 year-olds to make the decision about becoming an organ donor without any education on the subject.
  • If such a law has been passed in New Jersey, it should be passed in New York too.
  • Recent bills introduced that make recommendations to the Board of Regents are not enough. We need to mandate organ, eye, and tissue donation is included in all NY public high school curricula in order to allow teens to make informed decisions, dispel misinformation and start saving lives.

 

Why Am I Involved?:

Although I am a healthy seventeen-year-old, I am aware of the importance of organ donation because of my family. When my Aunt Betsy was only fifteen, she suddenly became very sick and needed her first kidney transplant. She has had four transplants in total and has been like a second mother to me. I cannot imagine my life without her. Thankfully, she was able to find living donors each time she needed a transplant, but others in New York State are not so lucky. This is an issue that has a solution and implementing organ, eye, and tissue donation into New York’s high school curricula can help increase awareness, educate students on an important issue that affects them and help save many lives in the process.

  

Every organ donor saves 8 lives. "Have a heart and be an organ donor, you don’t need them where you are going."

 


Sources:

https://www.nj.gov/oag/hts/downloads/NJ_Hero_Act.pdf

https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2019/S2439

https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2019/A3575

https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/05/opinions/teenage-organ-donation-opinion-brennan/index.html

https://alliancefordonation.org/curriculum-organ-and-tissue-donation-new-york-state-high-schools