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New Organ Donor Bill passes NY State Legislature
June 22, 2012
A new organ donor bill, already unanimously passed by the NY State Assembly, was passed without dispute by the state’s Senate on June 20, 2012.
The measure, named for heart transplant recipient Lauren Shields of Stony Point in Rockland County, NY, would require people to make a decision about being an organ donor when applying for a NY State driver’s license.
Currently, the application process allows applicants to bypass altogether that part of the application that asks whether they want to be a donor. The bill if it becomes law would eliminate that option for applicants and instead make them answer either “Yes” or “Not at this time” to the donor question.
Organ donation advocates including the New York Organ Donor Network have long argued that forcing applicants to make a decision will increase the state’s donation rate, which is among the three lowest in the country at just 18% of eligible donors compared to a national average of 42%.
The original bill that failed in the state Assembly in 2011 did so in large part because it would have forced applicants to answer either “Yes” or “No,” something critics of that bill (including the Organ Donor Network) felt the “No” option was too final and would prevent potential donors’ families from being approached to determine if they wanted to donate organs.