Secretary of State's organ donor efforts have state on record pace in first six months

OCTOBER 27, 2011Image: Restart the Heart

Donor registry shows overall 28 percent increase over last year

LANSING, Mich. -- Six months after Secretary of State Ruth Johnson launched her new campaign to sign up more organ donors, including a new policy directing branch office employees to ask customers if they would like to join the state's organ donor registry, the number of signups is soaring.

From April 20, the day after Johnson directed the change, through Oct. 19, there were 220,201 new organ donor registrations. That represents an increase of 28 percent over the same period last year, when there were 171,764 signups.

"We are encouraged by these improving numbers, which will save lives," Johnson said. "Those awaiting a transplant can rest assured our office, along with our partners Gift of Life Michigan and the Michigan Eye-Bank, will continue promoting this cause in every county of our state."

More than 2.3 million residents are on the state's organ donor registry, according to Gift of Life Michigan, but Michigan still ranks 44th nationally in organ donor registrations, so there is more work to be done, Johnson said.

Last year, there were 289 organ donors and 1,067 tissue donors in Michigan. Each organ donor can save up to eight lives. Each tissue donor can improve the lives of up to 50 people.

"We are thrilled by the number of people making this life-saving decision to join the donor registry," said Richard Pietroski, CEO of Gift of Life Michigan, the state's organ and tissue recovery organization. "It's so important to the 3,000 people in Michigan in need of an organ transplant and the many thousands more who need tissue or corneal transplants. Secretary Johnson and her staff are the new front line of the 'transplant team.'"

One of those waiting for a transplant is Jai'Wan Davis-Harbour, 11, of Taylor.

"My son Jai'Wan desperately needs a kidney to survive and live a normal life without dialysis. What Secretary Johnson has done gives us hope that the phone call we're waiting for will finally come," said the boy's mother, Cherisse Davis-Harbour.

Johnson's other efforts include an extensive promotional effort that includes putting organ donor reminders on the most widely used forms at Secretary of State branch offices and an advisory task force comprised of organ donor leaders, recipients and lawmakers. Additionally, her office is using social media to urge Michigan residents to sign up as organ donors.

Anyone can join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry by visiting or any Secretary of State branch office. Those who sign up receive a heart logo sticker to place on their driver's license that indicates their wish to be an organ donor. A new card with a permanent heart emblem is issued at renewal time.

For more information about branch office locations, hours and services, visit and sign up for official Secretary of State Twitter feeds at and Facebook updates at

Customers also may call the Department of State Information Center to speak to a customer service representative at 888-SOS-MICH (767-6424).


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