Why Are New Yorkers So Stingy When It Comes to Organ Donation?

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Residents of New York have plenty of things to be proud of, but the state's organ-donation rate is not one of them: Only 22 percent of New Yorkers are registered organ donors, good for third-to-last in the country. Residents of Montana, Alaska, and Washington, on the other hand, lead the way — those states' rates are all 80 percent or higher.

So what accounts for this discrepancy? In an email to Science of Us, Julia Rivera, the New York Organ Donor Network's director of communications, offered up a bunch of possible explanations ranging from the misconception that certain religions don't allow the practice ("all major religions" do, she pointed out) to fear of the medical system, but said there's no easy explanation. More than 80 percent of New Yorkers say they support organ donation, so it doesn't appear to be an ideological issue.Whatever the problem, it's a serious one — Rivera said that a New Yorker dies waiting for an organ every 15 hours. 

If you aren't a current donor and would like to learn how to become one, Rivera recommended going to www.hatethewait.org.