With the help of Unyts, one the leading procurement organizations in the nation, Western New York has one of the highest organ and tissue consent rates in the country. New York State, though, is the 3rd state with the lowest consent rates for organ and tissue donations in the U.S. With 113,000 people on the national waiting list for organ and tissue donations, 9,700 of them are residents of New York State, yet, the Empire State only has 18% of its adults registered as donors. The national average is 43%.
Beginning in October 2013, the number of New York State residents who become organ and tissue donors is expected to increase based on new language on the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles driver’s license application. A new bill signed into legislation by Governor Andrew Cuomo, called “Lauren’s Law,” requires applicants to check one of the two options for organ donor registration. Applicants can either check “yes” or “skip this question” under the organ registration section.
Back in June, Lauren’s Law was passed by unanimous vote by the New York State Assembly and Senate. Governor Cuomo stated that “By adding this new language to DMV application forms, it is our hope that many more New Yorkers sign up to be on the list of those willing to donate an organ or tissue.” Cuomo recognized Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Orange) and Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-
The President and CEO of Unyts, Mark Simon said that “[The bill] will result in increased donations and more opportunities for life safe and life enhancing transplants.”
Lauren Shields, who is now a 12 year old girl, received a heart transplant back in 2009. Officials named the law Lauren’s Law as a result of Shields’ advocacy efforts to help save lives by organ and tissue donations. Shields is a resident of Stony Point in Rockland County. She began her battle with heart failure when she was 9 years old, diagnosed with viral myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), an illness preventing her heart from being able to pump blood through her body because it was so swollen. Today, as a recipient of a successful transplant and a healthy child, Shields aspires to become a cardiologist to help save lives.
For more about Shields’ story, watch the video below:
“I never want anyone to have to wait for a transplant like I did.” -Lauren Shields
To learn how to register and become a donor and help save a life, please visit www.unyts.org/get-involved/donor-registry/.