In an effort to encourage more New Yorkers to become organ donors, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed “Lauren’s Law.” The measure is named for Rockland County girl Lauren Shields, who received a heart transplant in 2009.
The Stony Point girl, now 12, was on a waiting list for a month and a half and became so sick waiting for the life-saving transplant that she had to be put on life support.
The new law, which will take effect in one year, will require anyone over the age of 18 getting a new driver’s license to answer whether they would like to join the state’s donor list. The question is currently optional.
“It simply asks the question when you get a driver’s license, when you go to the DMV, ‘would you like to be an organ donor? Yes or skip the question.’ Now, you’ll have to answer that question when you apply for your driver’s license. And we believe by just asking that question and letting people think about it, we’ll dramatically increase the number of people enrolled in the organ donor program,” State Senator David Carlucci, who sponsored the bill, told WCBS 880.
Shields suffered a stroke after her transplant and had to relearn how to walk because she became so ill. She said the goal is to add more donors to the list to prevent anyone else from dealing with what she went through.
“I’ve been trying to spread the word on organ donation in hopes of inspiring people to be organ donors. I waited a long time waiting for my transplant and I just don’t want anyone else to have to wait as long as I did. I’m hoping that this law is going to make people sign up to be organ donors,” Shields told WCBS 880.
New York State currently ranks 47th nationally in state organ donation, something Carlucci said he hopes Lauren’s Law will change.
“Right now, over 10,000 people right here in New York are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant and unfortunately in New York, we lag behind almost every other state when it comes to eligible people enrolled in the organ donor program. In fact, we have about 19 percent of eligible people enrolled, compared to the national average of about 43 percent,” Carlucci told WCBS 880.
The new law adds the following language to DMV applications for driver licenses and non-driver identification cards: “You must fill out the following section: Would you like to be added to the Donate Life Registry? Check box for ‘yes’ or ‘skip this question.’”