A law starts today that makes answering the organ-donor question on New York license forms mandatory, aiming to create more organ donors.
Anyone who applies for a state drivers’ license or learners’ permit will now have to answer the question if they wish to be added to the Donate Life Registry. Applicants may choose the “skip this question,” option, Gannett’s Ashley Hupfl reports.
Currently, only 22 percent of New Yorkers over the age of 18 are registered organ-donor, compared to the nation’s 45 percent average.
“Lauren’s Law” was created to increase the amount of registered organ donors in the state.
New York falls behind in organ donor averages compared to the rest of the nation. The state’s Organ Donor Network reports over 10,000 New Yorkers are currently waiting for a life-saving organ. On average, someone dies every 16 hours waiting for an organ, state officials said.
Sen. David Carlucci, D-Clarkstown, Rockland County, and Assemblymen Felix Ortiz, D-Brooklyn, worked with organ donor advocates, city-elected officials, and organ transplant survivors; including Lauren Shields, the law’s namesake from Rockland County.
The legislation was passed in Albany last year. Supporters held a news conference today on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan to announce that the law is taking effect.
Shields at the age of nine almost died waiting for a heart transplant. Now, 13, she has become a public figure working for organ donation in the state.
Here’s a video about her story.