Illinois is one of only a handful of states yet to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to register for organ donation, but that is about to change.
State lawmakers introduced a bill that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to register as organ donors when they receive their driver's license or state identification card.
The proposal would give parents and legal guardians the authority to overturn their child's decision until age 18.
Those who coordinate life-saving organ and tissue donation are applauding a move by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and a coalition of state legislators, all pushing to save lives and deal with the shortage of available organs and tissue for transplant.
The new legislation could be on Governor Bruce Rauner's desk by spring. Statistics show that on an average day 18 Americans die as a result of the acute shortage of available organs and tissue. Thousands are on the waiting list in Illinois.
Secretary of State Jesse White's office said 47 states have similar legislation, including Indiana, Missouri, and Wisconsin. White's office said 300 people in Illinois die each year while waiting for an organ donor.
"Our goal is to save lives. Thousands of Illinoisans are on the waiting list for organs and we want to make sure that we do all we can to give them an opportunity to get a second chance at life or help to improve their quality of life," White said during a Thursday morning news conference.
"This is a meaningful program," White said. "This is all about helping your fellow man and woman and stepping up to the plate."