Michigan Organ Donor Registry tops 4 million

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DETROIT ‒ The Michigan Organ Donor Registry now stands at more than 4 million people willing to be organ, tissue and eye donors, bringing the statewide total of donor registrants to 52 percent of adults.

“This is wonderful news for Michigan because organ, tissue and eye donation saves and improves lives,” Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said. “Add your name to the donor registry and become a hero. Every name on the list means hope for the 3,500 people in Michigan waiting for a life-saving or life-enhancing transplant.”

Johnson announced the news on Detroit’s historic Belle Isle today at the 18th Annual LIFE Walk/Run, hosted by Gift of Life MOTTEP (Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program). Serving as run marshal for this year’s event is the Honorable Richard Bernstein, Michigan Supreme Court Justice. Bernstein, the first blind justice on the state’s highest court, is also an Ironman triathlete, an 18-time marathon runner and a tireless advocate for those with disabilities.

“No one should be limited in their quest to live life to the fullest,” Bernstein said. “The simple act of pledging to be an organ donor helps ensure that others can live longer and fuller lives. As run marshal for this event, I’m proud to support and bring awareness to the lifesaving work of Gift of Life MOTTEP.”

In 2011 when Johnson first took office, only about 27 percent of the state’s adults were on the donor registry, ranking Michigan near the bottom nationally. Johnson made expanding the organ donor rolls a priority but insisted that it be done at little to no cost to taxpayers. She directed her staff to start asking customers if they wanted to sign up, created a task force of leading experts and began promoting organ donor registration at Secretary of State offices. About 85 percent of people who sign up do so through the Secretary of State’s office.

Since 2011, Michigan’s organ donor enrollment ranking has jumped from almost dead last to 35th in the country. About 2 million people, or one-fifth of the state’s population, added their names to the donor registry in the last four years. Johnson credits this latest success to the hard work of Secretary of State staff, volunteers, and the Gift of Life Michigan and Eversight Michigan organizations.

“I’d like to thank Secretary Johnson and the SOS staff for all of the hard work that made this wonderful milestone a reality,” said Richard Pietroski, CEO of Gift of Life Michigan, the state’s organ and tissue donor program. “Lives are improved and lives are saved through organ, tissue and eye donation. Make the decision to be a donor and help the 3,500 people waiting for an organ transplant in Michigan.”

“Our mission is to preserve and protect the precious gift of sight and reaching 4 million on the donor registry is a great step toward that goal,” said Alison Wright, Community Relations Manager for Eversight Michigan. “I commend Secretary Johnson for this wonderful news and implore everyone who doesn’t have their name on the donor registry, to please add it as soon as possible.”

“With more than half of the state’s adults signed up to be organ donors, we’re getting ever closer to our ultimate goal of 100 percent participation,” Johnson said. “It is my belief that the more people learn about the benefits of organ and tissue donation, and the power it has to transform lives, the more likely they are to sign up on the donor registry.”

Every donor has the ability to save up to eight lives through organ donation and improve up to 50 more through cornea and tissue donation. Anyone can join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, regardless of age or medical history. Go to www.michigan.gov/sos or visit any Secretary of State office.

For more information about Gift of Life Michigan or Eversight Michigan, visit www.giftoflifemichigan.org and www.eversightvision.org/michigan.

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