SCHAUMBURG, Ill. – Starting Jan. 1, 16 and 17 year olds will have the opportunity to potentially save lives by becoming registered organ donors when legislation co-sponsored by state Rep. Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg, takes effect.
“By giving the gift of life through organ donation, families going through some of the darkest times can shine some light into the lives of another family going through hardship,” Mussman said. “This bill makes it easier than ever for more Illinoisans to get the chance to help the more than 4,700 people on the organ donor waiting list.”
Under House Bill 1805, supported by Mussman and Secretary of State Jesse White, 16 and 17 year olds will be able to register for the state’s organ and tissue donor registry at the time they are issued or renew a driver’s license or state identification card. The new law is expected to add more than 250,000 potential donors to the registry.
Parents of licensed drivers under the age of 18 will have the final say as to whether their child will participate in the donation program posthumously. Prior to the first-person consent registry established in 2006, many Illinoisans who signed the back of their driver’s license as a donor were unaware that family consent was still required for donation to occur, as it still is today for drivers under the age of 18.
“Parents who have to endure the loss of a child should have as many options available to them as possible,” Mussman said. “Even if a well-intentioned 16 or 17 year old registers for the donation program, their parents will still be able to decide what ultimately happens postmortem with their children. These types of decisions are deeply personal and should be made by the family and no one else.”