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State Senate Votes to Extend Donor Law Named After Stony Point Teen

Sen. David Carlucci stands with Lauren Shields, now 15, the Stony Point resident and heart transplant recipient after whom Lauren's Law is named. Photo Credit: Provided
Sen. David Carlucci, left, stands with Stony Point resident Lauren Shields, then 12, as she speaks about the passage of the organ donor registry law named after her. Photo Credit: nysenate.gov

A four-year extension for a law credited with boosting the organ donation registry in New York was approved by the state Senate this week, according to the lawmaker who sponsored it.

Lauren’s Law, first passed in 2012, was named for Lauren Shields, then a 12-year-old resident of Stony Point in Rockland County who had had a heart transplant.

It requires people seeking driver’s licenses to fill out organ donor portion of their application by either checking a box for “yes,” or “skip this question.”

It now goes to the state Assembly, where it is expected to pass, and then onto Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

According to Sen. David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) the state had a “historically low-performing” donor registry before Lauren’s Law took effect.

In 2012, the state’s donor designation rate was less than 11 percent of the population, but as of 2015, when the law was fully implemented, the donor designation rate was 17 percent, the highest ever in the state, Carlucci said.

Because of that increase, 50,000 more people have joined the registry in the past three months alone, Carlucci said.

Most donors who join do so through the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

The senator expects Lauren’s Law’s “trajectory” to continue upwards because the DMV anticipates license renewals to soar. Right now, 800,000 people renew or seek licenses in the state each year; that number could climb to 2 million a year, Carlucci said.

That means, he said, that another 560,000 individuals could join up over the next four years.

Lauren’s mother, Jeanne, thanked Carlucci, the state Legislature, and Cuomo for the attention they have given to the issue.

“The journey to an organ transplant is long, and other families should not have to go through this struggle," she said. “Each individual donor is crucial.”

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