Livingston County pushes for more organ donation registrations

New resolution urging residents to donate organs

LIVINGSTON COUNTY, N.Y. (WROC) - County leaders across New York State are raising awareness about organ donation. It's a collaboration between the New York Alliance for Donation and the State Association of Counties. Livingston County is the first in our area to get on board. 

The campaign is called Working Together, Working for Life, and there is a major push for this right now across the state. Looking at the percentage of those registered to donate organs in New York, we rank 49th in the nation. We also have more than 10,000 people in the state waiting for an organ transplant. In our area alone, there's 450.

Livingston County's Ways and Means Committee recently passed a resolution to help lower those numbers.
Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network's Executive Director Rob Kochik says this campaign will encourage people to donate. 

"Think about it personally, for our own individual decisions. Talk with our family members and then ultimately enroll in the NYS Donate Life Registry. So quite literally what Livingston County is doing will help save more lives," said Kochik. 

Though some people in Livingston County are already being urged to donate. Sally Stelljes and her family have been pushing the cause for fourteen years. That's because in 2001, her husband Mike was a liver transplant recipient. He had a living donor, his son Michael. If that were not the case, he could have waited years for an organ. Which is why the Stelljes family does everything they can to help transplant patients who are waiting.

"They're pretty sick, and by the time they get their transplant their body is so in need of care that it takes a long time to recover. So we really need organ donors desperately," said Stelljes.

Both the recipient and donor in their family's case have lived normal lives since the procedure. They call their situation unique. For those that are still going through the process Stelljes says it's important governments are getting on board. 

"I think people will respect that. The more people that are involved and more people in government pushing for this kind of initiative, I think it's wonderful," said Stelljes.

Something she hopes counties other than Livingston, will take into account.

Statewide around 25% of people age 18 and over are registered to donate, compared to a national average of more than 50%. Which is why Livingston County will be urging other counties to join in on the campaign.

If you'd like more information on registering to become an organ donor click 'Pass Life On' underneath the Sections tab on our website.

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