CHICAGO - A new measure signed into law Tuesday will allow teens as young as 16 to register to donate their organs. The new law has the potential to save hundreds of lives.
Illinois was one of only three states that didn't allow anyone under 18 to register. The "Drive for Life Act" now ensures that all residents 16 and older may choose to officially join the registry when they receive their driver's license or identification card.
As part of the new law, parents or adult guardians in Illinois would still have the opportunity to overturn their teen's decision until the registered donors turn 18.
Some families who lost their loved ones, like the Zuleg family from southwest suburban Naperville, spoke at the bill signing Tuesday morning. Kyle Zuleg died in an accident and donated his organs.
"Kyle saved five lives with his most noble and priceless gift of organ donation. What a gift to give at just 16 years of age," said Jill Zuleg, Kyle's mother.
"We want to encourage everyone who is possibly comfortable doing this to sign up to be a donor. Everyone possible, please sign up, enter the registry and donate your organs. You will save lives," Governor Bruce Rauner said.
In Illinois, more than 4,700 people are on the waiting list and about 300 people die each year waiting for an organ transplant.