Lauren’s Law Passed last year but Jacobs’ states implementation can be improved
Erie County, NY – Last year New York State passed Lauren’s Law, named after Lauren Shields who at age nine waited more than a month on an organ donation list and was put on life support before receiving a lifesaving heart transplant. Lauren’s Law requires anyone over the age of 18 getting a new driver’s license to answer whether they would like to be an organ donor. Previously the question was optional.
The goal of the law is to increase the number of individuals signing up to be organ donors when they are at the local Auto Bureaus and DMV’s. Presently 90 percent of those that sign up do so at their Auto Bureaus; however, New York State has a very low rate of organ donors compared to the national average.
County Clerk Jacobs says that efforts to enforce the law can be strengthened, “Currently, even if the organ donor question is ignored the DMV computer system allows the transaction to process.” Jacobs is urging the State to reprogram the system to implement a hard stop during the transaction if the cashier does not check “yes” or “skip this question”. “This will make sure the customer answers the question, and if left blank the cashier will be prompted to remind them they have to answer,” added Jacobs.
Jacobs has sent a letter to Barbara Fiala, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner, requesting that these changes be made. “If we are able to ensure that every person will be required to think about the question of becoming an organ donor when applying for a license, we can dramatically increase the number of people enrolled in the organ donor registry,” stated County Clerk Jacobs. “New York can go from 47th nationally in state organ donations, to being a leader in this area.”
“Currently the DMV computer system will not approve a transaction if someone does not list their address on the form and we simply think the organ donation question should be given the same importance,” says Jacobs.
For more information on how to become an organ donor the next time you come to the Erie County Auto Bureau visit www.erie.gov/clerk/donatelife.