‘Lauren’s Law’ would help increase organ donations

There are nearly enough people currently in need of a life-saving organ transplant to fill Ford Field in Detroit — twice.

Although 90 percent of Americans say they support organ donation, only about 30 percent of adults nationwide have signed up as donors. While roughly half of Michigan adults are currently registered, it’s not enough to meet the need.

This month, the Michigan Senate unanimously approved Sen. John Proos’ legislation, known as “Lauren’s Law,” which would help increase the number of registered organ donors in the state.

Lauren’s Law is about doing all we can to give the gift of life to those in need of an organ transplant.

According to Donate Life America, more than 120,000 men, women and children nationwide currently need an organ transplant; every 10 minutes another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list; and an average of 21 people die each day waiting for an available organ.

In Michigan, there are more than 3,500 people currently awaiting a transplant. In many cases, the transplant has the potential to save the recipient’s life.

Senate Bill 541 would require that the secretary of state’s office inquire whether someone wishes to be added to the Michigan anatomical gift donor registry when the individual applies for a driver’s license.

Proos’ measure is named “Lauren’s Law” after Lauren Shields, who at age 9 was placed on life support while waiting for a heart transplant, which she eventually received. She became the public face of organ donation in New York and helped pass a similar law there.

March is National Kidney Month and Proos got involved in this issue at the initiative of John Grinnell, a constituent who received a kidney transplant 29 years ago.

Becoming an organ donor is easy to do, yet it can be the most impactful thing in someone else’s life that any of us ever do.

For information about organ donation or to sign up to become a donor, residents may visit the Gift of Life Michigan website at GiftofLifeMichigan.org.