Initiative to help increase organ donations

Published 9:49 am Thursday, October 1, 2015

More than 120,000 men, women and children nationwide currently need life-saving organ transplants, and every 10 minutes another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list. Sadly, an average of 21 people die each day awaiting an available organ.

Although 90 percent of Americans say they support organ donation, only about 30 percent of adults nationwide have signed up as donors.

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

In Michigan, about 50 percent of Michigan adults are currently registered as organ donors — up from just 27 percent in 2010. It is a good record of improvement, but it is not enough.

That is why I am introducing 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. Grinnell was a kidney transplant patient nearly three decades ago and supports my initiative to require everyone to make a conscious decision about being an organ donor.

My bill 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.

It 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.

Under the proposal, 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 Southwest Michigan.