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Organ donor registry now available online

MGShelton via Flickr

New York state is hoping that a new way to join the state's organ donor registry online will mean a longer list of potential donors. Central New Yorkers, who have had to make decisions about organ donations, are encouraging New Yorkers to log on.

Vivian Brown's son Matthew was 27 when he was hit by a car and suffered life ending injuries. She remembers holding his hand as doctors asked her for permission to harvest his organs.

"I talked to Matthew. I said 'What do you want me to do? What am I supposed to do?' And my answer was this: I heard, 'Let me go mom,'" Brown said.

Matthew ultimately donated his kidneys, pancreas and liver, and Brown says she's happy that a part of him has helped someone else live.  Lisa Gagne was on the other end of the spectrum. Her young son, who had battled kidney disease for several years, received the call that a donor kidney was available.

"To us it was kind of bittersweet because we knew that the kidney had come from someone that had just  passed but, in the end, it has made our life so much better," Gagne said.

In New York state, only 17% of people who could be on the organ donor registry list sign up. And that's too bad, says Amy Freidman, Upstate Hospital transplant program director. She says doctors can do more than ever with donated organs.

"Our medical ability, the medicines we have, are so effective at preventing rejection that we're now doing transplants that are to improve the quality of life- not only to save lives," Freidman said.

She's hoping that the ease of joining the registry now by going online to the MyDMV section of the Department of Motor Vehicles website will swell the number of New Yorkers willing to become organ donors.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.