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Johnson, Advocates Highlight Donate Life Month

APRIL 11, 2012Join the Team!  Step up the plate and join Michigan's Organ Donor Registry


 

Leaders pledge to build on historic 2011 gains and encourage Michigan
residents to "Join the Team" by signing up on Organ Donor Registry
 

LIVONIA - In celebration of national Donate Life Month, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, organ donation advocates and even Detroit Tigers mascot PAWS today urged Michigan residents to "Join the Team" by signing up to become organ, tissue and eye donors.

Johnson was joined by Gift of Life Michigan and Michigan Eye-Bank partners at the Livonia Area SUPER!Center, one of the top Secretary of State offices for organ donor sign-ups.

"We saw record-breaking statewide numbers last year with 400,000 people - a 25 percent increase - signing up to become organ donors and we must keep that momentum going strong," said Johnson. "Donate Life Month provides the perfect opportunity to renew our commitment and rally support to save lives."

"Every time someone joins the donor registry, they give hope to the thousands of people in Michigan who need an organ or tissue transplant for renewed or improved life," said Richard Pietroski, CEO of Gift of Life Michigan. "We are extremely grateful to Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and all Secretary of State employees who make it so easy for citizens to document their decision that they want to be a hero to those who are desperately in need."

Also attending Wednesday's Donate Life Month event was 11-year-old Jai'Wan Davis-Harbour who has been on dialysis since he was 7 months old and is waiting for a kidney.

Davis-Harbour, who smiled as he was hugged by PAWS, wants to be a baseball player when he grows up. The Taylor resident will be featured on baseball-themed posters in Secretary of State offices across the state to encourage organ donation. To hear his story, visit www.youtube.com/giftoflifemichigan.

As part of additional efforts to their 2012 "Join the Team" campaign, the Michigan Secretary of State office, Gift of Life Michigan and the Michigan Eye-Bank are also helping to promote the Transplant Games of America, to be held July 28-31 in Grand Rapids. More than 1,300 athletes who are organ recipients will compete in a wide range of sporting events.

Getting the "Join the Team" message out is critical, Johnson said. She hopes it will encourage the nearly 50,000 customers who visit Secretary of State offices every day to consider becoming organ donors.

Johnson, vowing to improve Michigan's numbers, last year directed SOS employees, time permitting, to ask every customer if they wanted to join Michigan's organ donor registry. It resulted in record increases in sign-ups, including a 62 percent last month over March 2011. Her other efforts in partnership with organ donor advocates included the creation of an advisory task force, educational efforts and reminders on widely used forms. She also supported a new Donate Life Month license plate, available this summer, to promote organ, tissue and eye donation.

"By changing the way they do business, Secretary Johnson and her staff are helping create a donor friendly Michigan where the idea of being an eye, organ and tissue donor is considered the norm and the right thing to do," said Lisa Langley, executive director of the Michigan Eye-Bank.

Today more than 300 volunteers from Gift of Life Michigan, the Michigan Eye-Bank, and the Lions of Michigan will visit nearly every Secretary of State branch office across the state to tell their stories. These volunteers, also known as "buddies," have a personal connection to organ, tissue and eye donation, either as recipients, family and friends of donors or people currently waiting transplant.

Michigan currently has 3,000 people on the organ transplant waiting list. According to national statistics, 18 people die each day from the lack of available organs for transplant; however, one donor can save up to eight lives and enhance the lives of more than 50 people.

Anyone can join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry by visiting www.Michigan.gov/sos or any Secretary of State 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, tissue and eye 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 www.Michigan.gov/sos. Sign up for the official Secretary of State Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/MichSoS and Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/MichiganSoS.
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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For media questions, please call Gisgie Dávila Gendreau, Michigan Department of State, at 517-373-2520; or Tim Makinen, Gift of Life, (734) 922-6055.

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