Giving Minors a Major Opportunity: New York State Donate Life Registry Expanded

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Tiffany Alexander-Childs knows a thing or two about waiting. She was just five weeks into being a new mom in May 2008 when her daughter, Macy, suddenly became ill.

"We thought, being new parents, that it was just a virus. That's what we were actually told until 24 hours later. We were told she had something called midgut-volvulus," said Alexander-Childs, a donate life educator with Upstate New York Transplant Services, or Unyts.

Doctors told her that Macy's survival depended on a small intestine transplant.

"We just waited and stayed in prayer," said Alexander-Childs. "We just knew that the day was going to come."

And it did, after eight months on the waiting list.

As of Tuesday, a new state law expanded the number of people eligible to join its complement, the state Donate Life Registry, by allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to enroll.

Ten percent of all people in the United States waiting on transplants live in New York State, according to Unyts. Officials say they think this legislation could be huge for those they work with.

"Just making it open to 16 and 17-year-olds who are going to the DMV to get a driver's permit, their non-drivers ID; simple acts like that, it's a much more simple process that way," said Unyts marketing director Sarah Diina. She says the law has the potential to increase the New York's registry, the second-lowest in the country, by thousands.

"This was something that didn't hit close to home until it fell into our laps," said Alexander-Childs. "When we understood what that meant and how someone's decision to say yes at a terrible time, it was something that was just so selfless of someone and someone's family."

Alexander-Childs says 9-year-old Macy has her good days and her bad days, but overall she's a happy, healthy kid who's moved on from waiting to living.

Under the new law, parents would have the final say on whether donations from their minor children could be made. Diina says it's important that at least teens wishes will be known.

For more information on organ donation, visit this website.

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