The Council of the City of New York
Office of Council Member Costa Constantinides
(718) 274-4500

For Immediate Release
July 22, 2015
Contact: Shachar Sharon

Constantinides Proposed Organ Donor Policy is Confirmed

New York City Hall – City Council Member Costa Constantinides announced the confirmation of his proposal to encourage organ donation. He called for providing workers with job protections if they chose to become living organ donors.

The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), which would implement this policy under the Earned Sick Time Act, clarified its interpretation of the law to include organ donation after an official inquiry from Constantinides.

In a letter, DCA explained its conclusion that organ donation surgery is covered by the paid sick leave law, as paid sick leave can be used for elective surgeries. DCA updated its website Frequently Asked Questions to indicate that organ donation surgeries are covered by the law.

Constantinides said, “We face a public health crisis – our state ranks in last place in registered organ donors. One way to mitigate this is to encourage more people to become living organ donors by ensuring that anyone can do so without the possibility of losing pay. I am proud that anyone who makes the sacrifice of organ donation will no longer have to choose between their job and giving life to someone in need. I thank the DCA for clarifying the law and for its partnership in addressing this important public health issue.”

DCA Commissioner Julie Menin wrote, “Thank you [to Constantinides] for your leadership on the issue of organ donation. Not having access to an organ can place an individual’s life in grave danger. DCA is proud to enforce a paid sick leave law that, by allowing for the use of sick time for organ donation surgery, might encourage New Yorkers to consider donating organs to those in need.”

New York State ranks 50th out of 50 nationwide in percent of residents who are registered organ donors. Every 18 hours, someone in New York State dies waiting for an organ. Transplant recipients can wait years for an organ. For example, the average wait time across the nation for a kidney transplant is 3 years.

Read Constantinides’ letter to DCA here and DCA’s full response letter to Constantinides here.

The news was supported by LiveOnNY, the federally designated organ procurement organization in the NY Metropolitan area. LiveOnNY President Helen Irving said, “LiveOnNY applauds Council Members Constantinides and DCA Commissioner Julie Menin for proactively moving to address the critical shortage of suitable organs for lifesaving transplants. New Yorkers support organ donation and these efforts will help inspire New Yorkers to take action by calling attention to the need for organ donation, and by protecting and supporting the generosity of living donors. These efforts are truly about life saving measures.”

Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on six additional standing committees: Civil Service & Labor, Contracts, Cultural Affairs, Oversight & Investigations, Sanitation, and Transportation. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.
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