It's a dubious distinction that health advocates are working to change.
When it comes to registering people to donate organs, eyes and tissue, New York State has the lowest rate in the nation. This is one reason why advocates have proclaimed April Donate Life Month.
There are about 800 people in the region awaiting transplants, according to Sarah Diina, marketing director for Unyts, Western New York's only organ, eye, tissue and community blood center.
Why is New York's donor registry rate so low? Diina said that are a number of factors.
“Number one being that it’s not an easy state to actually register for. We have a very antiquated Department of Health website and they do not accept electronic signatures at this time, so right now the easiest way to do it is to go to your local auto bureau and do it as you’re filling out a new form or a license renewal.”
The Erie County Auto Bureaus have reported a significant increase over the past couple years in the number of people who have signed up with the registry
Diina said the demand for kidneys is currently the most pressing need.
“The waiting list is growing every single day and the amount of people donating are not meeting the need," she told WBFO.
In addition to raising awareness Donate Life Month aims to celebrate those “who have given life.” Unyts hosted a Donor Wall Plaque Dedication Tuesday at ECMC.