Niles man inspires legislation to help increase organ donations in Michigan

Published 9:49 am Thursday, February 20, 2014

More than 120,000 men, women and children currently need life-saving organ transplants, and 18 people die each day awaiting an available organ.

Unfortunately, although 90 percent of Americans say they support organ donation, only about 30 percent of adults nationwide have signed up as donors, according to the U.S. Department of Human Services.

Simply put, signing up to become an organ donor is signing up to save a life – maybe multiple lives. It is easy to do, yet too few people take the necessary step.

In Michigan, only 32 percent of drivers are currently registered as organ donors.

That is why I recently introduced legislation to help increase the number of registered organ donors in Michigan and help save lives.

I got involved in this issue because of the initiative of John Grinnell, a Southwest Michigan resident and organ recipient.

“As a kidney transplant patient 27 years ago, I support the legislation to require everyone to make a conscious decision about being an organ donor on their driver’s license,” said Grinnell. “There are many people waiting for organ transplants, and for those who choose to be an organ donor, they can give the gift of life to others at the time of their death. I would like to thank Senator John Proos for introducing this legislation.”

The bill 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.

Senate Bill 793 would require that when individuals apply for or renew a driver’s license that they select whether they would like to be added to the Michigan anatomical gift donor registry.

The secretary of state’s office would inquire either orally or in writing whether an individual wishes to participate in the anatomical gift donor registry program in Michigan.

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


Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, represents the 21st District, which includes Berrien and Cass counties and most of Van Buren County.