Governor Signs Law Promoting Organ Donation

TRENTON – A new law signed by acting Gov. Richard Codey last week will soon force all New Jersey residents getting a driver’s license to consider becoming organ donors.

The NJ Hero Act also makes New Jersey the first state in the country to incorporate organ donation education into the high school curriculum, beginning in the 2009-10 school year.

“Our goal is to generate a collective awareness about the importance of organ donation so that those who want to donate, will,” said Codey, who sponsored the legislation. Codey served as acting governor while Gov. Jon Corzine was in Israel on a trade mission.

“Ultimately, we want to move this important conversation out of the emergency room, where illness and injury already create a profound burden, and into the living room, where a thoughtful and deliberate decision can be reached without the pain of loss looming on the horizon,” Codey said.

The new law will, in five years, require that drivers seeking a license agree to donate their organs following their death, or if they decline, review information about the importance of organ donation.

In the past ten years, 2,470 New Jersey residents died while they were on the organ donor waiting list, according to a statement from Codey’s office. In March, more than 4,000 New Jersey residents were waiting for organ transplants.

Approximately 1.7 million state residents are currently registered as organ donors. The state Motor Vehicle Commission will keep the database of registered organ donors under the new law. Colleges will also be required to distribute organ donation information in campus clinics.

Medical Society of New Jersey President Raj Gupta said his organization plans to support the law by launching a public awareness campaign about the value of organ donation aimed at his physician colleagues and their patients. “This legislation will help save many lives, and The Medical Society of New Jersey is proud to support this effort,” Gupta said.

Codey also signed a measure that would require organ procurement agencies to register with the state health department.

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