Palmesano Applauds Passage of Legislation Making Lauren’s Law Permanent

Bill is headed to the governor’s desk after passing Senate, Assembly
May 17, 2017

The attached photo depicts Assemblyman Palmesano speaking last year at a press conference with his legislative colleagues, organ donor advocates and donor families.

Today, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) joined his colleagues to pass one of his priority bills for this year’s Legislative Session– a permanent extension of Lauren’s Law.

Palmesano is a sponsor of the bill. He worked closely with Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Kings) to generate bipartisan support for the legislation.

Lauren’s Law promotes anatomical giving by requiring New Yorkers signing up for or renewing a driver’s license to respond to a question asking if they would like to enroll as organ and tissue donors. Requiring individuals to make an active choice and not simply skip the question has helped donation rates begin to rise.

While Palmesano is pleased that the measure passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support, he cautioned that there is still plenty of work to do to elevate New York State’s donation rate and save thousands and thousands of lives.

“Lauren’s Law is landmark legislation for New York State’s organ donation community. It is a convenient way to encourage people to make a compassionate choice,” said Palmesano.

Improving New York State’s organ donation rate has been one of Palmesano’s top priorities since he was first elected to the Assembly.

The need is clear. Only 28 percent of New Yorkers are enrolled organ and tissue donors. The national average is 50 percent. Montana leads the nation at 87 percent. Out of 52 American states and territories, we’re ahead of only Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, New York counts nearly 10,000 individuals on its waiting list for organ and tissue transplants. 1,800 have been waiting for more than five years. Approximately 600 New Yorkers die each year waiting for a transplant.

Each new donor matters. An individual who donates at the time of their death can save up to eight lives and impact 50 others.

“We won’t stop pushing this issue every year until New York becomes a national leader in organ donation,” said Palmesano.

In recent years, Palmesano has worked with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both houses of the Legislature to institute reforms that make it easier to enroll, including the creation of a user-friendly online registration portal and a new law which allows 16- and 17-year olds to declare their intent to become organ donors.

“This issue is personal for me. My sister Theresa was a two-time kidney transplant recipient, so I have seen firsthand the impact organ donation can make on a suffering individual and their family members. I know how important it is, and that’s why I’ll continue working with my colleagues to figure out how to get more New Yorkers enrolled. It’s about healing, and it’s about hope. Making Lauren’s Law permanent is an encouraging step in the right direction, and we’ll keep making progress,” said Palmesano.

The legislation is named for Lauren Shields. At age seven, she began showing the alarming symptoms of a debilitating heart condition. Lauren beat the odds and beat the disease after a successful heart transplant at the age of nine, and she’s been fighting to pass legislation to tear down the barriers to organ donation ever since.

“Thank you to Lauren for taking on this challenge. Her dedication, determination and relentless commitment to this issue made her the face, and now, permanently, the name when it comes to organ donation in New York State. Her efforts have helped saved countless lives since this law was first passed in 2012, and they will save countless lives in the future,” said Palmesano.