O’Scanlon Introduces Legislation on Organ Donation
Minors as Young as 14 May Register as Organ Donors
Yesterday Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon introduced (A4219). This legislation would permit unemancipated minors as young as 14 to opt into the organ donor registry run by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC). Currently, the MVC serves as New Jersey’s chief resource to register individuals into the program. When a person gets their Class D license; the non-commercial driver’s license given to those 18 or older, it is the first time the MVC is permitted to ask an individual if they would like to participate in the program. However, this is not the first time an individual has an interaction with the MVC. People have the opportunity to obtain non-driver photo ID’s as young as 14, moped licenses at 15, learners permits at 16, and provisional licenses at 17.
Under (A4219) an authorized parent or guardian may still revoke the minor’s consent to be a registered organ donor in the event of that minor’s death. This revocation applies to the national Donate Life America (DLA) registry as well. Minors are already permitted under the model Uniform Anatomical Gift Act utilized in the majority of States to register in the DLA registry.
New Jersey law currently requires that high school students be taught about organ donation in Phys. Ed. and it is tested on their driver’s license exam. “It makes sense to give these young adults the option to memorialize their wish to help others. The bill may also help eliminate any confusion for a family at a time of unimaginable loss.” said O’Scanlon. “The bill is intended to start a much needed discussion in New Jersey households about the importance of organ donation. Losing a child is the worst nightmare of every parent. I can’t fathom it. I don’t want to. My heart goes out to those that have. That’s probably why so many [parents] leave it to their children’s educators to talk to them about organ donation.”
Consider the following: Less than 1% of people who die each year are eligible to be an organ donor, even if they were registered. Advancements in medical technology have enabled organs to be harvested from decedents of all age spectrums and from those previously exhibiting various degrees of health. Every major religion supports donation and some consider it to be the most altruistic act a person can perform. A deceased organ donor can provide life enhancing transplants to more than 50 people. Juveniles of varying body sizes can prove to be difficult to find matching organs for. 90% of Americans say they support donation, but only about 30% know the essential steps to take to become a donor. (A4219) affords an individual the opportunity to register when that education is fresh in a person’s mind.
Nationally, 18 people die each day on the organ donation transplant list. The list is about 115,000 people long and New Jersey has about 5,000 people on that list. Our State lags behind the number of registered donors nationally. Efforts by the New Jersey Sharing Network; the State’s largest Organ Procurement Organization, and the MVC have boosted those numbers significantly in recent years, but New Jersey is still behind the curve. O’Scanlon’s office worked in conjunction with the Sharing Network to craft the bill and has their full support. “We are headed in the right direction with this bill. There is still a lot of work to be done to improve the system as a whole and I challenge the public to educate themselves on the importance of this subject.” said O’Scanlon.