More organ donors needed in New York

By Matt Porter

April 12, 2013 Updated Apr 13, 2013 at 1:23 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) New York ranks 48th in the country for registered organ donors.

That's bad news for the more than 113,000 people in the country waiting for organ transplants, 10,000 of whom live in New York.

Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Barbara Fiala said the DMV is beginning a campaign to increase registered organ donors in the state.

"New York definitely should be better than where we're at," Fiala said. "That's why we're putting this effort on, and I'm very confident that we will do better."

In October, a new law called "Lauren's Law" will take effect and require all license applicants to specify if they want to become an organ donor.

The law was passed last year and is named after Lauren Shields, a 12-year-old who received a heart transplant in 2009 after suffering a stroke.

"It can save a life," Fiala said. "If it's not available, a life is lost. So the more availability, the better chance we have to save lives and that's what it's all about."

'You could save a life'

Michelle Romeo-Wilkinson's adopted son, Chris, was 16 when he fatally shot himself in 2005.

Amidst the tragedy, she found hope.

"I may be losing my son," Romeo-Wilkinson said, "But another parent was not going to be suffering a loss or crying tonight."

Her son donated 4 viable organs along with several skin tissue transplants.

She remembers her son's pride in the organ donor label.

"He was showing everybody, 'Look I'm an organ donor.' Instead of, 'Look, I got my permit.'" she said, "And that's I think his biggest way of wanting to help people."

Romeo-Wilkinson said there's no excuse for people not to sign up.

"You can do it online right now, you can do it so simply it has to be done," she said. "You could save a life."