A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon that would allow minors as young as 14 years old register as organ donors was passed overwhelmingly, 74-0, in the Assembly on Thursday. Currently, the youngest a person can register as a organ donor in New Jersey is 18. The legislation gives parents of minor organ donors the ability to overrule the registration.
O’Scanlon worked on the bill with the NJ Sharing Network, the nonprofit organization that manages the state’s organ transplant system.
“Children in need of organ transplants usually require organs smaller than those an adult can provide,” said O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth). “Teens will be empowered to memorialize their wishes. The act is both selfless and admirable. The bill may also help to provide parents both guidance and comfort during a time of unimaginable loss.”
The Monmouth County legislator said the initiative is an opportunity for the Legislature to save lives.
“The higher we can get our organ donation registry rates the more lives we’ll save – it’s as simple as that,” said O’Scanlon. “By starting the discussion early in people’s lives, and giving them every opportunity to register, we will unquestionably increase participation rates.
“I hope this bill sparks a much needed discussion in households throughout the state about the importance of organ donation,” added O’Scanlon. “I challenge the public to educate themselves on the importance of this subject.”
Prospective organ donors can register with the state Motor Vehicle Commission when applying or renewing an automobile license, given to those aged 18 or older. However, minors may obtain a non-driver photo identification as young as age 14, a moped license at 15, learning permit at 16, and a provisional license at 17.
“It is tragic that our current laws don’t permit people to choose to register to become organ donors from their very first contact with the MVC,” said O’Scanlon. “That missed opportunity only serves to lower our ongoing registration rates, and literally results in missed opportunities to save lives.”
The bill permits a parent or guardian to override a minor’s wishes and gives the parent or guardian the final say when asked by an organ procurement organization at the time of the potential donation. Minors are already permitted under the model Uniform Anatomical Gift Act utilized in the majority of states to register in the Donate Life America (DLA) registry.