Celebrating Donate Life Month

AIt's a Love Story! April 12, 2017 - Donate Life MonthPRIL 12, 2017

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson,
partners recognize Donate Life Month

Reminding residents of the more than 3,500 people in Michigan awaiting a potentially life-saving organ transplant, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today recognized April as Donate Life Month during a visit to St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit.

“Through the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, one person has the potential to save or transform the lives of 75 people,” Johnson said. “Today we remember those who gave the gift of life, sight and mobility and recognize those who have received those same gifts. I encourage everyone to take a moment and join the registry to give others a second chance at life and sight.”

Johnson was joined by Dorrie Dils, CEO for Gift of Life Michigan, the state’s organ and tissue recovery program; Diana Kern, executive director for Eversight Michigan, the state’s cornea and eye tissue recovery program; transplant surgeon Dr. Kevin Grady, those waiting for an organ, and family members whose loved ones donated organs to save the lives of strangers.

“Every time someone joins the Donor Registry they give hope to their fellow residents who are desperately waiting for a transplant,” Dils said. “We thank our partners at the Secretary of State for their dedication in helping people make this decision to save and improve lives. Together, we are building a culture where donation is becoming the norm across the state of Michigan.”

Johnson presented a Shining Star Award to Patty Jo Herndon, president and CEO of the Michigan Donor Family Council, president-elect of the Gift of Life Michigan Foundation and a board member at Eversight Michigan. She became involved in the cause after the death of her sister in 1997.

Johnson also announced the winner of the statewide Transplant Center Challenge, a competition between each of Michigan’s nine transplant centers to see who could add the most new donors to the Michigan Organ Donor Registry over the past year. The winner, St. John’s, signed up 840 donors, topping second place Detroit Medical Center with 826 signups. Together the centers added more than 2,700 names to the registry.

Today also marks Donate Life Day when dozens of volunteers from Gift of Life Michigan, Eversight Michigan and Michigan Lions and Lioness Clubs visit Secretary of State offices across the state to tell their stories. These volunteers have a personal connection to organ donation, either as recipients, family and friends of donors or people waiting for an organ.

“On Donate Life Day last year, thanks to more than 200 volunteers, we added 1,476 new names to the Michigan Organ Donor Registry,” Kern said. “We are so grateful to the Secretary of State and her staff for their dedication to improving and saving lives across the state.”

Johnson made huge changes in the way the Secretary of State’s office approached organ donation after she was elected in 2010. At that time only 27 percent of eligible residents had signed up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, while the total now is close to 59 percent. Working with her partners like Gift of Life Michigan and Eversight Michigan, she created an advisory task force, put organ donor reminders on widely-used SOS forms, enlisted social media and directed employees to ask customers if they wanted to sign up, doubling the percentage of names on the list. About 85 percent of people who sign up do so through the Secretary of State’s Office.

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 emblem for their driver’s license that indicates their decision to be an organ donor. A new card with a permanent heart emblem is issued at renewal time.

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For media questions, please call Fred Woodhams at 517-373-2520.

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