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New bill would let teens join Illinois organ donor registry

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White (pictured in May 2016) backs legislation introduced in the Illinois Legislature that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to register for the state's organ and tissue donor registry. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times file photo

SPRINGFIELD — Legislation has been introduced in the Illinois Legislature that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to register for the state’s organ and tissue donor registry.

The legislation has the backing of Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s office. It was introduced by state Sen. Mattie Hunter, of Chicago, and state Rep. Deb Conroy, of Villa Park, both Democrats.

“Our goal is always to save lives,” White said. “Thousands of Illinoisans are waiting for an organ. Many of those who wait are someone’s mother, father, daughter or son. This legislation, which the vast majority of other states have implemented, is an important step in reducing the number of those on the waiting list.”

“As the wife of someone who is in need of an organ, I believe that this legislation works to expand those who choose to give to this life-giving program,” said Conroy, who is planning on donating her kidney to her husband. “Others who are waiting may never receive their gift without those who say ‘yes’ to organ/tissue donation.”

The measure would let 16- and 17-year-olds become part of the registry when they register to drive or register for their state identification card. It would amend the Illinois Anatomical Gift Act, which requires those joining the donor registry to be at least 18 years old.

Those under 18 who register would give consent to donate their organs and tissues, but only after efforts have been made to contact a parent or guardian.

Illinoisans can register with the Secretary of State’s Organ/Tissue Donor Registry at LifeGoesOn.com, by calling 1-800-210-2106 or visiting their local Driver Services facility.