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Heart recipient and organ donor activist Lauren Shields to speak at Donate Life celebration April 5

Heart recipient and organ donor activist Lauren Shields to speak at Donate Life celebration April 5

Lauren Shields, a 16-year-old Stony Point resident who received a heart transplant in 2009 when she was nine years old, will join Upstate University Hospital, Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network, and Senator DeFrancisco’s office in a ceremony highlighting the need for organ donors Wednesday, April 5 at 11 a.m. in the Performance Center of Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

The ceremony will spotlight Lauren’s Law, named for Lauren Shields. The law makes the organ donor registry section a requirement when applying for or renewing a driver's license and non-driver ID by selecting either yes or skip this question. Before Lauren’s Law, a response was not required.

Shields is an organ donor advocate and public speaker. With her mother, Jeanne, Lauren frequents Albany to lobby for Lauren's Law to become permanent. The law is currently in effect through October 2020, after officials in Albany voted to extend the measure originally passed in 2012.

More than 119,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for organ transplants and 22 people die each day while on the wait list. In the Central New York area, there are more than 700 people waiting for an organ transplant. Only 28 percent of New Yorkers are registered to be an organ, eye or tissue donor. The national average is 54 percent; Onondaga County averages 37.6 percent.

In 2016, Upstate University Hospital performed 109 kidney transplants, including three kidney-pancreas and three pancreas transplant alone. From the 103 kidney transplants, 16 were living kidney donations. So far in 2017, Upstate has performed 24 kidney transplants, two of which were living kidney donations. The average wait for a kidney at our center is two-and-a-half years, making Upstate the center with the shortest waitlist time in New York state.

Anyone can decide to become a donor. Medical history and age do not automatically exclude individuals from donating. One donor can help more than 50 people.

In addition to the ceremony, a Bake Sale and Silent Auction will be held in the Performance Center from noon to 2:30 p.m. Wear blue and green to show your support for Donate Life Month and email photos to Sue Rainbow at rainbows@upstate.edu by April 17.

In addition to Upstate and Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network, event supporters include the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation and the Central New York Eye and Tissue Bank.

For more information on Upstate’s Transplant Program, visit Upstate Transplant Program.