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New York organ donations lag far behind national average

A new report recommends that New York simplify its organ donation process, because 18 people die per day in the state awaiting a transplant. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield conducted the study. The company's medical director, Dr. Martin Lustick, says they found that just 22 percent of New Yorkers are registered donors, compared to 48 percent nationally.

"Unlike states that have a high rate of registration, our process for registering is somewhat more cumbersome than the average across the country," Lustick said.

Lustick says those barriers include having to go through the Department of Motor Vehicles to register, or filling out a complicated online registration.

"I don't think it's because we're inherently ungenerous," Lustick said. "I really do think if we can get this process fixed, we can get to a much better place, and do a better job of providing organs, not only for our own citizens, but across the country."

Lustick says states with a high organ donor rate typically have a non-profit organization take care of the process. The New York State Health Department is drafting a bid request for outside help to increase registration.

"You compare that to states where they have much higher rates, in the 70 and even some over 80 percent range, they typically have a charitable organization that is private, and sets up a process separate from the state government for the folks to register," Lustick said.

Lustick adds there is funding in the state budget for the state department of health to find an outside not-for-profit organization to run the donor registration process.