Tim Brennan is a senior at Regis High School in New York City. He is also a passionate advocate for organ donation whose family is closely tied to the transplant community. He is the editor of The Falcon, a sports newspaper at his school, and the co-host of a sports podcast. Last year, Tim wrote an op-ed for CNN about his efforts to increase organ donor registration in his home state. You can read the original article on CNN’s website here. All credit goes to CNN and Tim Brennan.
(CNN) — As a 16-year old in New York State, there are a lot of things I cannot do. I can’t join the Army, I can’t get a driver’s license, I can’t vote, and I can’t drink. But there’s one thing I can do. I can register to become an organ donor, something that before February 14, 2017, no 16-year-old in New York could do. Last year, New York joined 47 other states in the nation that allow 16-year-olds to register as organ donors. Due to the recent legislation from Albany, high schoolers can now help a cause greater than themselves: the organ donation crisis.
I realize most of my peers feel invulnerable and organ donation is not a topic discussed at the dinner table. But that’s what I intend to change. I’m hoping I can convince my peers and people across all ages about how important organ donation is and that they need to make their intentions known to their families.
You never know when the problem will affect you or a loved one. When my aunt was only 15, she found out she needed a kidney transplant. That was her first of four that she has needed in her lifetime, but thankfully she received her first three from family members and the fourth from a close friend. Both my grandparents and cousin are living kidney donors for my Aunt Betsy. As you can see, organ donation has always been an important cause for my family.
But others are not so lucky. In the United States, there are more than 95,000 people waiting for a kidney and more than 114,000 on the overall organ donation list. But New York is the worst place to live if you need a transplant.
The wait for an organ in New York is three to five years versus one to two years for the rest of the country. Many patients die while waiting — in fact one every 18 hours in New York, according to LiveOnNY, a nonprofit that promotes organ donation.
Help support Tim’s mission to integrate organ, eye, and tissue donation education into New York State’s high school curricula by signing his petition to NY State Commissioner of Education, MaryEllen Elia.