NYS Senate unanimously passed a four-year extension of Lauren’s Law to boost organ donations

By Joseph Spector, Albany Bureau Chief
Published on February 24, 2016

LI TRIO notes:

Regarding New York Senate S6228- Met in person with Senator Hannon and confirmed support for providing an official four year extension to Lauren’s Law which was set to expire in October. The Senate subsequently passed this legislation.

New York State Assembly A8594-It is expected that this extension will also be passed in the New York State Assembly. As we speak with members of the Assembly we are pleased to find overwhelming support for the extension at this time. Governor Cuomo will also have to sign this legislation into law. Upstate has Lauren and Jean Shields effectively and successfully advocating for this legislation.

The New York State state Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed a four-year extension of Lauren’s Law to boost organ donations.

The law, which expires in October, expands the donor options on driver’s license applications and was first passed by the Legislature in 2012.

The measure is named after then-12-year-old Lauren Shields of Stony Point, Rockland County, who received a heart transplant in 2009.

Shields and her family were at the Capitol on Wednesday as the Senate approved the bill, which is sponsored by Sen. David Carlucci, D-Clarkstown, Rockland County.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of enrolled donors,” Shields, who is now 15, said of the law. “It’s really important that it gets put into place again so we can continue to save lives.”

The law requires individuals who apply for a driver’s license to complete the organ donor registry section of the application by selecting either “yes” or “skip this question.” Previously, the section had been optional for prospective drivers to fill out.

The measure was changed again last November to require the state Department of Motor Vehicles to not process license applications that didn’t have a completed donor registry section. Since then, Carlucci and advocates said the number of people signing up to be donors has skyrocketed.

New York’s donor registry — which has had the lowest participation rate in the country — increased from 11 percent of the population signing up to be organ donors to 17 percent over the past three months, according to the New York Alliance for Donation.

“This is one of many steps we look to take,” Carlucci said. “Lauren’s Law is an important foundation in terms of fixing the mechanics of signing people up. We know we have a lot more to do. We have to fight the stigma attached to organ donation.”

Lauren Shields’ efforts were praised by lawmakers on the Senate floor.

“Keep up the excellent work. You are doing fantastic,” Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, R-Suffolk County, said.

The bill now heads to the Democratic-led Assembly for consideration, and it’s likely to pass there as well. Then Gov. Andrew Cuomo would have to sign the bill, which he did in 2012.

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