Delta County residents have the chance to give the gift of life by becoming organ donors.
This is Donate Life Month, and it is a perfect time to consider becoming an organ donor - an act that has the potential of giving others a new lease on life.
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson recently pledged strong new measures to encourage Michigan residents to sign up to be organ and tissue donors, as she kicked off Donate Life Month with leaders of Gift of Life Michigan and the Michigan Eye-Bank.
Michigan ranks near the bottom of the country in organ donation registrations. Less than one-third of the state's adult population has registered with the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.
There are 3,000 people on the waiting list for organs. Johnson said this demands a new approach and a new way of thinking. "We can and will do better. I would encourage every Michigan resident to sign up as a potential donor. You can save lives. You can make a difference," Johnson said.
As part of the Secretary of State's new "Restart the Heart" campaign:
- Johnson has brought together physicians, lawmakers and some of the most respected organ donation leaders in the state as part of an advisory committee to come up with innovative, yet cost-effective approaches to promote organ donation.
- Organ donation reminders are being added to some of the most widely distributed forms and applications at Secretary of State offices.
- A new checklist will greet branch office visitors that will ask them if they want to become organ donors.
- Information will be provided to staff about some of the most commonly asked questions regarding organ donation.
- The newly-designed license includes a permanent heart image to denote those who have signed up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.
- The Michigan Secretary of State's Office uses social media such as Facebook and Twitter to promote organ donor registration.
Last year in Michigan, 790 organ transplant operations were performed. Each organ donor has the potential to save eight lives and enhance the lives of as many as 50 patients. There is no age limit to become a donor.
Efforts to promote organ, tissue and eye donation continued April 12, when Secretary of State offices across Michigan opened their doors for Secretary of State "Buddy Day." Buddies, who are often organ or tissue recipients or their family members helped answer questions and encourage residents to add their names to the Donor Registry. This effort is coordinated by Gift of Life Michigan, the Michigan Eye-Bank and Lions Club.
Anyone who is interested may also sign up at the Secretary of State website at www.michigan.gov/sos. Those who sign up will receive a red heart sticker for the front of their license or state ID card.
A newly-designed Michigan driver's license, which began being issued this month, will signify registered donors with a permanent red heart on the front of their license. Signing the back of a driver's license no longer enrolls residents in the Donor Registry.
The residents of Delta County are generous people, and becoming an organ donor could be the most precious gift you ever give. You may want more information before making a decision. Here are some sources that may help.
Gift of Life Michigan is the state's certified, full-service organ recovery organization. Contact the agency at (800) 482-4881 or www.giftoflifemichigan.org. The Michigan Eye-Bank recovers, evaluates and distributes corneas for transplantation, supports eye and vision research and offers public and professional education on the importance of eye, organ and tissue donation. To learn more, call (800) 247-7250 or visit www.michiganeyebank.org.
For more information about organ donation and the Secretary of State's Office, visit its website (www.Michigan.gov/sos).