- Published: Monday, April 24, 2017 01:51 PM
April is National Donate Life Month. All around the nation, advocates and organizers are encouraging individuals to register as organ, eye and tissue donors. The campaign has not only been designed to increase the donor registry list, but to also celebrate those that have helped save lives through the gift of donation.
This 100th General Assembly, State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) and Secretary of State Jesse White brought forth new legislation that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to register for the state’s First Person Consent Organ/Tissue Donor Registry when they receive their driver’s license or identification card.
“Choosing to give life to another is a wonderful gift,” Hunter said. “Opening the donor registry will broaden the number of overall donations and save countless lives.”
Under current law, an individual must be at least 18 to join the registry. While this legislation leaves the decision up to teenagers, Senator Hunter and Secretary White encourage youth to discuss their decision with their parents.
By joining the First Person Consent Organ/Tissue Donor Registry, 16- and 17-year-olds can give consent to donate their organs and tissue at the time of their death. However, the procurement organizations, Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Network and Mid-America Transplant, are required to contact a parent or guardian to ensure approval of the donation. Ultimately, the parent or guardian will have the opportunity to overturn the child’s decision.
The legislation moved favorably out of the Senate’s Public Health Committee and to the Illinois Senate for further consideration.
Right now, more than 118,000 men, women and children await lifesaving organ transplants. A living donation offers another chance at life for transplant candidates. As for donors, their decision to register can turn a troubling time into a source of comfort for families as a result of renewed life for others.