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APRIL 14, 2006

Secretary of State Land concludes successful Buddy Week

Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land concluded the first-ever Buddy Week today in Grand Rapids and announced that the number of names submitted for Michigan's organ donor registry has surpassed 1 million, an unprecedented level of participation by state residents.

"One million names was a goal we set three years ago and I am grateful to all of the residents who helped make it happen," said Land, who has been encouraging residents to "Be One in a Million" by signing up for the registry. "The more people who make the selfless decision to sign up as potential organ donors, the more lives will ultimately be saved."

The number of Michigan residents who have submitted their names to the organ donor registry now totals 1,035,854. That represents an increase of nearly 200,000 names from the approximately 840,000 names in the system one year ago.

Speaking at a ceremony at the Grand Rapids SUPER!Center branch office, Land thanked Gift of Life Michigan, the Michigan Eye-Bank and the many other groups and individuals that dedicate themselves to increasing the number of organ donors in the state.

Buddy Week is an extension of what in previous years had been a single "Buddy Day" focus on raising awareness of the need for organ donation. The week began with an intensive outreach effort at more than 140 Secretary of State branch offices by almost 300 volunteers.

Known as "Buddies," the volunteers were transplant recipients, donor family members and organ donation supporters who interacted with members of the general public to encourage them to make the gift of life. The Buddies shared personal experiences, answered questions and sought to clear up myths that keep people from signing up as potential donors.

This year, the campaign continued beyond the initial Buddy Day on Monday with events held across the state each day of the week. Land presented Shining Star awards to recipients at ceremonies in Livonia, Ann Arbor, Flint, Saginaw and Grand Rapids. The awards were initiated by Land to recognize those whose exceptional efforts encourage greater organ donation awareness.

"By expanding the peak of our year-round efforts to raise organ donation awareness from a day to a week, we hoped to bring this important issue to the attention of more would-be donors than ever before," Land said. "At one million names and counting, we look forward to continued success in promoting the gift of life."

There are nearly 3,000 patients in the state awaiting an organ transplant, according to Gift of Life Michigan, a nonprofit full service organ recovery organization. In 2005, 269 people donated nearly 800 organs for transplantation in Michigan, which saved a record number of lives. At the national level, there are more than 91,000 people in need of an organ transplant, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

President George W. Bush, in his proclamation of April as "National Donate Life Month," has called on Americans to decide to donate the gift of life. "By saying yes to organ and tissue donation on their driver's licenses, adding their name to donor registries, or talking about their decision with family and friends, citizens help save lives and contribute to a more compassionate and hopeful society," Bush stated.

Related Links:
> Secretary Land, advocates ask, "Are you one in a million?"
> Secretary Land calls on residents to 'donate life' by enrolling on the donor registry April 10
Organ Donor Registry