Family of 20-year-old organ donor turns tragedy into a lasting legacy

Published 8:41 am Saturday, July 15, 2023

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BATON ROUGE — This week, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards formally signed Act 180, also known as Aliye’s Law. Effective August 1, 2023, Aliye’s Law will ensure facts about organ, tissue and eye donation are taught in a high school course required for graduation.

The legislation, authored by Louisiana Representative Barry Ivey, was inspired by the family of 20-year-old Aliye Ringe, who became a donor hero in December 2021. Ringe’s grandmother Leah Veck, a veteran educator, explained to lawmakers that education about the donation and transplantation process is crucial for all. Veck said, “More people need to know about donation. By initiating Aliye’s Law and working to get it passed, I am living like my beloved Aliye–saving lives with her through organ donation education.”

More than 100,000 people across the country are currently waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant with almost 2,000 of them here in Louisiana. Thousands more people are waiting for life changing cornea and tissue transplants. According to LOPA CEO Kelly Ranum, donation is both a precious gift and a limited resource. “Because only three in 1000 people die in a way that allows for organ donation to take place, it is vitally important for everyone to register their decision to be an organ, tissue and eye donor,” she said.

Aliye’s decision led to five strangers receiving the ultimate Christmas gift, the gift of life. Aliye was in a tragic car accident and on December 23, was declared brain dead. Because she had signed up to be an organ donor when she got her first drivers license at the age of 16, her family honored her decision. Veck explained that registering as an organ donor was completely in line with her character, as she was the type of person who wanted to help everyone.

“My biggest fear is Aliye being forgotten,” said Aliye’s mother Lenzi Davis. “My mother will not let that happen. I truly believe my mother was put on this earth to educate. She is doing God’s work….and so is Aliye from up above, just on the other side. I believe in organ donation and I am proud that as Aliye’s story is shared, she continues to save lives.”

Ranum explained that organ donation and transplantation is an important health issue–especially in Louisiana where we have a high prevalence of diseases and conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease–all of which contribute to organ failure.

Aliye’s family volunteers with the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (or LOPA) to honor Aliye’s legacy and to save more lives through donation education.

Aliye’s Law passed both chambers of the Louisiana legislature without opposition.

Representatives Roy Daryl Adams, Dewith Carrier, Robby Carter, Kenny Cox, Paula Davis, Phillip DeVillier, Michael “Gabe” Firment, Foy Bryan Gadberry, Cedric Glover, Scott McKnight, Clay Schexnayder, Joseph Stagni, Polly Thomas, Francis Thompson, and Malinda White joined as coauthors. It was signed into law on June 8, 2023 and ceremoniously signed in the presence of Aliye’s beloved family on July 11.