GNYHA Hosts Briefing on COVID-19’s Impact on Organ Donation, NYGA on Hospital Policies

August 3, 2020

GNYHA held a July 28 member briefing to review the New York Gift Act (NYGA), which amended the Public Health law effective June 23, 2020, governing policies, and practices impacting organ donation and transplantation. NYGA incorporates elements of the model Uniform Anatomical Gift Act as drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and affects both hospitals and procurement organizations.

Helen Irving, President and Chief Executive Officer of LiveOnNY, the organ procurement organization (OPO) for the greater New York area, discussed the significantly negative impact the COVID-19 surge had on donations and thus transplantation in all programs from March through May, after a record year in 2019. Ms. Irving reviewed the significant operational changes made by LiveOnNY to respond to the pandemic including how the OPO remotely received and responded to donor referrals, family support, donor management, and procurement and recovery, including the use of local recovery surgeons. As hospitals resume non-COVID care, Ms. Irving noted that June data reflects an increase in organs donated and transplanted, and this trend is expected to continue.

Margaret Davino, Esq., a partner at Fox Rothschild LLP, provided a thorough and insightful review of the provisions in the NYGA that impact hospital policies and procedures touching on new definitions, as well as significant changes to the law. She specifically discussed amendments that expand the priority list of persons who can authorize an anatomical gift to include adult grandchildren and grandparents; allow donations to be made in the absence of a document of a gift authorized by the decedent, when a majority of persons in a class agree to the donation; clarify who can make amend or revoke an anatomical gift, and the circumstances under which this can occur, among other important changes. Ms. Davino also highlighted the provision that requires referral for donor evaluation and screening in timely manner to determine suitability for anatomical gift by the OPO prior to approaching a family for consent.

The webcast recording and referenced materials have been posted here.