ALBANY, NY (WENY) — Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law, the New York State Living Donors Support Act, the first state program in the nation to allow individuals to be reimbursed for the costs of kidney and liver donations.
The legislation intends to eliminate financial barriers to organ donation, to reduce wait times for organ transplants, and to address the organ shortage in New York.
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano said he has seen firsthand, how organ donation can impact quality of life. Palmesano’s sister, Teresa, had juvenile diabetes. She received her first kidney transplant in 2000 from a stranger. And in 2006, when she needed another one, Palmesano stepped in.
“To be able to do that is probably one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done– to be able to help out my sister and see how that impacted her life, her quality of life,” he said.
Palmesano highlighted that New York State has the third highest need for donors but the third lowest donor enrollment rate.
There are currently more than 8,000 people on transplant wait lists in New York and more than 7,000 people waiting for a kidney, according to the Organ Procurement Transplantation Network.
But this legislation could help encourage more people to be living donors, Palmesano said.
“It’s just one more tool that we can use to help get more people to sign up and register to be an organ donor,” he said.
Moving forward, Palmesano said the legislature could look at introducing resolutions or new bills to further combat this issue.