New bill allows eye and organ donor consent as young as 16 in Illinois

Registered eye, organ and tissue donors in Illinois can now be as young as 16 years old under a measure signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday at the University of Chicago Medicine.

House Bill 1805, also known as the Drive for Life act, gives thousands more Illinoisans the opportunity to join the registry each year by allowing 16- and 17-year-olds the right to express their decision to become donors.

"Eversight is thrilled with this legislation as another step forward by the donation community in support eye, organ and tissue donation throughout Illinois," said Diane Hollingsworth, Eversight Vice President of Partner Relations. "his is a positive and empowering moment for youth to make their donation wishes known."

The Drive for Life Act will allow Illinois residents 16 years old and older to join the first-person consent donor registry when they receive their driver's licenses or state ID cards. Parents and legal guardians maintain the right to approve or revoke their decision until they are 18 years old.

"So many people are waiting for life-saving organ transplants," Gov. Rauner said. "In Illinois alone more than 4,700 people are on the waiting list, and every year around 300 people die waiting for a transplant. It's tragic. We need to give everyone who wants to become an organ donor the opportunity to do so, and that's exactly what this bill does."

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and state legislators worked with organizations across Illinois to get the Drive for Life Act written into law.

"My goal for the Illinois Secretary of State's organ and tissue donor program is to save lives by ensuring that organs and tissue are available for those in need," Secretary of State White said. "This new law is a major step toward reaching that goal. I was proud to work with the advocacy groups, legislators and the governor to help make this law a reality."

Eversight is a charitable, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to restore sight and prevent blindness through the healing power of donation, transplantation and research. Our network of community eye banks—in Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and South Korea—is responsible for recovering, evaluating and providing human eye tissue for transplantation; supporting research into the causes and cures of blinding eye conditions; promoting donation awareness through public and professional education; and providing humanitarian aid to people around the world in need of corneal transplantation.