Easier to Donate

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Elaine Berg, President and CEO of the New York Organ Donor Network, talks about the change in New York's organ donation registry.


Elaine Berg

Comments [40]

Liz from Savannah, GA

Further on places to donate a brain:

Another important way that people can help dementia research is by arranging to donate their brains to brain and tissue banks after they die. Tissue from these banks is made available to qualified researchers so that they can continue their studies of how these diseases develop and how they affect the brain. Brain banks accepting donations include the following:

National Disease Research Interchange
1628 JFK Blvd.
8 Penn Cntr. 8th floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Tel: 215-557-7361 800-222-NDRI (6374)
Fax: 215-557-7154

Human Brain and Spinal Fluid Resource Center
Neurology Research (127A) W. Los Angeles Healthcare Center
11301 Wilshire Blvd. Bldg. 212
Los Angeles, CA 90073
Tel: 310-268-3536 Page: 310-636-5199
Fax: 310-268-4768

UM/NPF Brain Endowment Bank
University of Miami Dept. of Neurology
1501 N.W. 9th Ave., Rm. 4013 (D 4-5)
Miami, FL 33136
Tel: 305-243-6219 800-UM-BRAIN (862-7246)
Fax: 305-243-3649

Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center
McLean Hospital
115 Mill Street
Belmont, MA 02478
Tel: 800-BRAIN BANK (272-4622) 617-855-2400
Fax: 617-855-3199


Jul. 30 2008 03:22 PM
ileen from manhattan

I hope Elaine Berg is still checking these comments. I went to the website linked as Organ Donor Network at the top of this page, and the only way I can see to complete a form is to print it out, fill it in manually and mail it the old fashioned way. Isn't there an actual online form that can be filled out via typing that goes to the right place electronically? Thanks.

Jul. 24 2008 11:48 AM
Barbara from Manhattan

Please, people, don't forget that other body parts are needed. It's not just organ donation! Your surgeon could give you a pig or horse tendon, but a human tendon is much better.

Jul. 23 2008 04:56 PM
Elaine Berg from New York Organ Donor Network

Sannon - the process of saving a lifeis totally separate and apart from the process of donation. When a critically ill pateint comes into a hospital all efforts are made to save them - no one thinks about donation. It is only if and when a person is being declared dead that the donor network is contacted to speak with the family about donation. The transplant surgeons never even know about the potentoial donor until we receive consent - these are totally separate and unconnected teams.

Jul. 23 2008 12:41 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ

Shannon Hanley,

Can you imagine the law suit that would come about if it where found out that not everything was done to save your life? Your family would own that doctor’s life…. Doctors take a Hippocratic Oath to do everything they can to save your life. Even if the doctor has no ethics, the lawsuit alone would be more then enough to keep them from playing god. Why would the doctor risk everything, including their license just to take one persons life to save another? Not saving your life over someone who needs a transplant just makes no sense. You’re both in critical condition. What advantage would the doctor have if they choose the donor’s life over yours? Even if you have no insurance or no money, the Emergency room doctor is going to get paid either way. Please don’t listen to your friend. You “organ Donator” on your license could ironically actually save your best friend’s life some day….

Jul. 23 2008 12:33 PM
Shannon Hanley from Westport, CT

I have always been a firm believer in organ donation. I have a given my best friend a medical power of attorney in case something happened to me. He warned me that they may not honor his wishes if I am an organ donor because they would rather have the opportunity to use my organs than treat me and potentially compromise my organs with medicine. So I think I'm going to rescind my organ donation for the first time since I was 16. Can you shed some light on how doctors give priority to treating a person vs. organ donation? And, can you assure me that the MPOA would take priority over donation?

Jul. 23 2008 11:59 AM
karen from Village

According to Orthodox Jewish law (halacha), Jews can aand should donate organs...interesting:

HODS - Halachic Organ Donor Society

The mission of the HOD Society is to save lives by encouraging organ donation from Jews to the general population (including non-Jews) by educating them about the different halachic and medical issues concerning organ donation.

Jul. 23 2008 11:57 AM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ

Robert #20,

Hope you never need a transplant for those Doctors you don’t trust might not have an organ for you in time because of your type of attitude.

And where do you go if you’re in a life or death situation? The emergency room. And guess who saves your life? Not your mechanic or your mail man, it’s the emergency room doctors. You see one person on TV who died because she was neglected. But how many lives did that hospital save that day, that month, that year?
How many lives did your mechanic or mail man save in the same amount of time?

Jul. 23 2008 11:55 AM
anonymous from Texas

I do hope socialized medicine never goes through in this country. I am happy to be a donor though. When I die, take whatever you want.

Jul. 23 2008 11:23 AM
Elaine Berg from New York Organ Donor Network

22. Please contact AMSNY for questions about whole body donation. They are here in NYC.
23. Actually, over the past few years, it is memebers of my staff who do the approach for donation - not the doctors.
26., 27. No age limit - depends on what you are able to donate. For example, we have transplanted livers from 92 year olds, and they work very well!!!

Jul. 23 2008 11:02 AM
Elaine Berg from New York Organ Donor Network

11. Don't rule yourself out for any medical or age reason - medicine changes and we are using organs that we would not have used years ago!
13. I am in favor of presumed consent! The NYS task force on this topic met and asked the legislature for funding to study the topic further, which they did not get. The NY Organ Donor network is having a debate on this topic and financial incentives on November 20th. Check our website for details!
14. Although cancer is generally a rule-out, as we do not want to transmit this to the recipient, don't rule yourself out - if you've been cancer-free for some time, we may be able to transplant your organs, but definitely corneas would be considered - the gift of sight!!!
17. I agree - whole body donation is very important!!!
18. Again, don't rule yourself out! Let us make that determination when the time comes. You may not be able to donate organs but maybe other tissues.
20. We really are good guys. But not everyone will believe us...
21. We send our tissues to non-profit tissue banks except for heart valves which we send to Crolife, the largest processor of heart valves in the country. We do this because they bring the tissue back to our local hospitals. When our staff request consent for tissue we advise the family that they can refuse to have their loved one's tissues sent to a for-profit. We are totally non-profit.

Jul. 23 2008 10:59 AM
Elaine Berg from New York Organ Donor Network

1. Brains are not transplantable but are very much needed for research into Alzheimer's, autism, and more. One place that does this research locally is Mt. Sinai Hospital.
2. Thanks!
3. It's now a legal consent
4. With the new on-line registry you will be able to specify if you want to donate to research or only for transplant
5. NYS does have a tax break for expenses related to LIVING donation. At this time other incentives are being discussed but are not legal.
6. and 8. No age limit
9. No restrictions - each potential donor and each organ is evaluated separately
10. You will be able to sign up on the web. The only way your license will have an indication on it, though, is if you sign up at the DMV

Jul. 23 2008 10:48 AM
Stephen from Brooklyn

After considerable thought and many years working in the medical information industry, I'd have to say.
No No No - Not until UNIVERSAL Health Care is available for all or another 100 years, NOT just those who can afford to PAY-PAY-PAY.
This is just another industry for those who can afford it.
Meanwhile those of us who can't afford to pay get no care or substandard care, but we do get to be donors by default, and the state which is complicit, makes it easier for us to be a donor than a voter!
But then perhaps there is Medical Democracy only for those who can afford it.


Jul. 23 2008 10:42 AM
Joan from Upper West Side

How usable are organs from older people? I've thought that because I'm 80 and still going strong, that whenever my time comes my organs will be sort of worn out. Would my remains be more useful for organ donation or for research?

Jul. 23 2008 10:32 AM
Charles Lewis from Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J.

Is there an age limit to donators?

Jul. 23 2008 10:30 AM
Barbara from manhattan

In March I received a new kneecap and tendon from a donor. Without that donation I would never have walked without crutches again. I'm glad that someone mentioned that it's not only organs that help people. Certainly, my problem wasn't mortal, but the donation has given me a quality of life that is many times better than what would have awaited me otherwise.

Jul. 23 2008 10:29 AM
Aaron from Brooklyn

First dibs on Brian's brain!!!

Jul. 23 2008 10:26 AM
Steve in Hell's Kitchen from Manhattan

Lopate revealed that doctors are embarrassed to ask the family for organs. It turned out that they ignore the driver's license permission because they are afraid of lawsuits, so they feel they have to ask the family for consent and they are afraid of bad reactions.

People are dying because of this absurdity.


Jul. 23 2008 10:23 AM
Elizabeth from Monmouth County NJ


Jul. 23 2008 10:22 AM
Terri from Bed Stuy

Ms. Berg noted that her organization is a non-profit entity, but in some states so-called non-profits harvest tissues for the market. What's the situation in New York, and can one direct that her tissue absolutely not (even at some point down the line) be sold?

Jul. 23 2008 10:22 AM
Robert from NYC

Doctor's lost their ethics decades ago. Sorry Elaine, I don't believe you. How about that women who died a few weeks ago that was caught on tape. Professionals of all types passed and saw her suffering and just let her died. Tell that story to someone who will fall for it.

Jul. 23 2008 10:22 AM
Elizabeth from Jersey City, NJ

There is a great program here at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ where students can watch organ transplants, including kidney transplants, in real time and talk to OR staff via videoconferencing. It interests them in careers in science and also in organ donation. We work with the Sharing Network.

Jul. 23 2008 10:22 AM
Lilnda Garfinkel from West Caldwell, NJ

I am a lymphoma survivor (14 years). I have been told I can never give blood because of this. I assume I cannot donate my organs. Am I right?

Jul. 23 2008 10:21 AM
Pam, M.D. from Wstr.

People: Future surgeons (i.e.-medical students) can NOT learn anatomy via models!
Also: scientific research is vitally important!

Jul. 23 2008 10:21 AM
Mark Gavagan from Mendham, NJ

Great topic!

Don't forget the critical step of discussing the issue and communicating your wishes to donate your organs with all of your loved ones.

Send a confirmation email or letter to all so there's no confusion or hesitation in carrying out your generous wishes.

-Mark Gavagan
Author of "The It's All Right Here Life & Affairs Organizer" (

Jul. 23 2008 10:21 AM
amanda from hoboken

@ O #7,


Jul. 23 2008 10:20 AM
Elisa from NYC

I'm a 23 year childhood cancer survivor and received a blood transfusion and had chemo and radiation - am I able to be an organ donor? I was recently cleared by the Red Cross to donate blood, but wanted to know about donating organs.

Jul. 23 2008 10:20 AM
David Johnson from Brooklyn, NY

I recall that the NY State Legislature recently passed a bill establishing an exploratory commission to examine "presumed consent" in organ donation -- that is, an organ donation system in which everyone is assumed to be an organ donor unless he registers that he does *not* want to donate.

Do you know what, if anything, has come of that? And what do you think of "presumed consent"?

Thank you.

Jul. 23 2008 10:20 AM
Matthieu from Brooklyn

I'm all for organ donation! Any efforts to make it easier are great, as long as they allow individuals to modify their preferences based on religious views or other issues.

On a side note: NY state driver's licenses used to require two witness signatures, but no longer do. This has thrown a wrench in the works of my using the license as a great autograph pad! Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth was one of my witnesses on my previous license. This is my silly complaint.

Jul. 23 2008 10:18 AM
kevin from Chelsea

I always avoid donations of this nature because I carry the antibody for hepatitis. Am I doing the right thing?

Jul. 23 2008 10:18 AM
Pam, M.D. from Wstr.

Brian--Is there a way to sign-up in a binding way via the Web? Will it result in one's being sent a new driver's license with the words "organ donor" printed on it?

Jul. 23 2008 10:17 AM
Jeffrey Slott from East Elmhurst

Just curious; I am a type 1 diabetic. Is there any restrictions for me in donating my organs?

Jul. 23 2008 10:17 AM
norman from nyc

What are the age limits to organ donation?

I know that for bone marrow transplant, the donor must be younger than 62.

Jul. 23 2008 10:16 AM
O from Forest Hills

Amanda #3,

Before a person would mark they wanted to donate but their next of kin had to consent so it was a registry of intent, now it will be a registry of consent so that if a person marks they want to donate, it will not require next of kin's consent.

Jul. 23 2008 10:16 AM
Arthur LaBow from NYC

Is there an age limit?

Jul. 23 2008 10:15 AM
Michael from NYC

Hm... as we're in the political season, how about a tax break?
Or IF Obama looses, how about force the insurance companies to cut half of your costs?

Jul. 23 2008 10:15 AM
James from DUMBO

Does Checking that box also give them permission to harvest organs or body parts to use in research or only for transplants going to an actual patient?

Jul. 23 2008 10:14 AM
amanda from hoboken

i missed the first 5 minutes--what is the change?

Jul. 23 2008 10:13 AM
Mike from Mt Olive NJ

Went to DMV and they made me an organ donor even though i checked off No. I think it had something to do with my age I am 23. But after I saw it I though it would be a good idea because so many people need organs and I am young and healthy.

Jul. 23 2008 10:12 AM
michael winslow from INWOOD

Can you donate your brain?

Jul. 23 2008 10:09 AM

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