Lauren Shields, 13: 'I'm So Grateful To My Donor, My Angel'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New Yorkers who apply for a driver’s license will now be asked if they want to be organ donors under a law that took effect Thursday.

As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, you can no longer avoid the issue: you’re in or you’re out.

“What this law does is it requires that people answer the organ donation question,” said James Pardes of the New York Organ Donor Network.

Lauren’s Law was named for 13-year-old Lauren Shields of Stony Point, in Rockland County. She received a heart transplant when she was 9, and spoke at Thursday’s City Hall press conference.

“Because so many people are waiting in New York for a transplant, it’s very important that those people get those transplants before they do pass away,” said Shields. “Because I was in this situation, it’s very important to me.”

“It has not been an easy journey but I’m so grateful to my donor, my angel for giving me my second chance at life. Make no mistake about it, this law may be named after me but it is for the thousands in New York that are waiting for a transplant right now,” Shields said.

The new law adds the following language to DMV applications for driver licenses and non-driver identification cards: “You must fill out the following section: Would you like to be added to the Donate Life Registry? Check box for ‘yes’ or ‘skip this question.'”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Lauren’s Law last year.

Currently, about 10 percent of New Yorkers sign up for the state’s “Donate Life Registry,” 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reported. The goal of Lauren’s Law is to require people to decide whether to become an organ donor, rather than the current process of opting out by default.

Last year, more than 500 New Yorkers died while waiting for a transplant.

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