New Illinois Law a Boon for Organ Donation

By: Bridget Clerkin July 31, 2018
Illinois has lowered the age of eligibility for the organ donor registry—opening it up to teens applying for their first driver's license.
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They may not be old enough to vote, but a cadre of Illinois teenagers are proving they can still elect to make a difference.

Since January 1 2018, more than 20,000 16- and 17-year-olds across the state have signed up to be organ donors. The surge in selflessness is possible thanks to a new Illinois law allowing the younger teens to register in the Prairie State’s organ donation registry.

The Drive for Life Act syncs the eligible ages for driver licensing and organ donation—opening up the opportunity to an additional 350,000 Illinois residents.

Called the Drive for Life Act, the measure syncs up the ages of those eligible to operate a motor vehicle with those who can legally sign up as an organ donor. The option to join the registry is presented on the same application form needed to get a driver’s license, streamlining the process for many.

Passed last year, the bill also allows a parent or legal guardian to veto their younger teen’s choice—though it seems few have opted to do so.

Indeed, the charitable act has only seemed to catch on in Illinois, with the state’s total organ donation registry soaring to 6.5 million participants since the start of the year.

That’s good news for the state’s in-need population. Three hundred Illinois residents die each year before they can receive a successful transplant. As of last year, there were 4,700 patients on the organ waitlist in Illinois alone.

At the time of the bill’s passage, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White estimated the Drive for Life Act could help significantly bolster the donor rolls, opening up the opportunity to an additional 350,000 residents there.

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