Senate Passes Lauren's Law to Increase Organ Donation

Hugh T. Farley

April 15, 2011

In honor of National Donate Life Month, the New York State Senate was joined by 11-year-old heart transplant survivor Lauren Shields on April 13th and passed life saving legislation to significantly increase organ and tissue donation. Lauren’s Law (S.3885) would increase the number of eligible and willing organ donors by requiring driver’ license applicants to specifically indicate their donation decision.

April is National Donate Life Month. Nationally, there are approximately 110,000 men, women and children waiting for organ transplants. Every 11 minutes, a new name is added to the national waiting list and each day, 18 people die because of the lack of donated organs.

In New York, more than 9,300 people are on the list for organ transplants. However, the state has ranked last in the number of organ donors signed up through their DMV program. In 2009, New York ranked last in the nation, signing up only 11 percent (or 427,562) of the 3.8 million people who received a driver's license or a non-driver's identification. By contrast, Colorado signed up 64 percent of new license holders.

Lauren’s Law would prohibit a driver's license application from being processed unless the organ donation section is filled out. Applicants would have to check a box stating "yes" or "not at this time." There currently is an organ donation section on the application, but it is not required to be filled out.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly.