NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn and LiveOnNY hosted their annual Organ Donor Enrollment Day on Oct. 8. The event took place on the corner of Second Avenue and 55th Street.
Elizabeth Douglas, RN, nurse manager of the surgical intensive care unit at NYU Langone Hospital–Brooklyn, said the event increases awareness of organ donation and helps people understand how and why they should be an organ donor.
“In New York, there’s much less opportunity for people to be organ donor recipients for donation,” she said. “The wait time in New York is significantly longer than in other parts of the country because there’s just less registered donors in New York than there are in other places.
Accoring to LiveOnNY statistics, every 18 hours a New Yorker dies waiting for an organ transplant because there are not enough registered donors. New York ranks lowest in all states for organ donor enrollment, with only 40 percent of residents registered.
Douglas also explained the reasons why people are hesitant to become donors.
“One of the big ones is people think if the hospital knows that they are an organ donor that they’re going to be taken care of not as well or they are going to be allowed to die quicker or easier,” Douglas said. “We take care of everyone the same and we don’t know organ donor status until it becomes time that that would be something to be coming into effect. I understand that sometimes thinking about death and dying is scary, but thinking about the future of someone else should be a part of that.”
During last year’s event, Bay Ridge native Bill O’Hagan explained how a donor saved his life. O’Hagan, who was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2016, waited a year and a half for a donor and, during that time, had two other bouts with cancer. After the transplant, he felt immensely grateful.
“Once I had the transplant, my first reaction was, how great is this,” he said. “It’s over. Then you sit back and you think somebody’s got to die for me to live. It’s allowed me to walk my daughter down the aisle. My grandson was born. I have three of them now, and I get to go to their birthday parties. Who knew?”
Since then, O’Hagan’s goal has been to find a way to give back.
“I do as much as I can for LiveOnNY,” he said. “Every time a notice goes out for some kind of event, I respond right away.”