“We want people to just have a momentary contemplation of the decision, even if the decision is that I don’t want to help right now,” says Rocco Andriola, co-chairman of Save Lives Now New York Foundation. He’s talking about Lauren’s law, which passed the Senate with a unanimous vote of approval. Named for a heart transplant survivor from Rockland County, Lauren’s law changes the language on driver’s license forms such that the organ donation section is no longer optional. That is, one applying for a driver’s license must check a box indicating either A) an intent to join the organ donor registry, or B) a desire to skip the question for the time being. Before Lauren’s law, the entire section could be ignored.

New York has the second lowest rate of registered organ donors in the country, behind only Texas, with 15% of New Yorkers over 18 in the registry versus the national average of 40%. Compare that to the number of New Yorkers waiting for organ donations: currently, there are 10,000 awaiting transplants. In 2011, nearly 600 people died while on that list.

In enacting Lauren’s law, New York joins California, which passed a similar law, in having mandatory language with regards to organ donation registration. Donate Life California says it is still too early to tell whether their law had increased organ donations in California.

(For what it’s worth, in many countries in Europe, everyone is presumed to be an organ donor. That is, one must actively join a registry of non-organ donors if one doesn’t wish to be considered a donor. No state in America takes this kind of an opt-out position.) (Photo: Erin Stevenson O’Connor/Flickr)