Johnson Joins Organ Donation Advocates in Flint for Donate Life Month

APRIL 17, 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

FLINT, Mich. - In honor of Donate Life Month, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and organ donation advocates came together today to urge residents to "Join the Team" by signing up to become organ, tissue and eye donors.

Johnson was joined by representatives from Gift of Life Michigan, the Michigan Eye-Bank, and Wolverines for Life at the Flint Area SUPER!Center, one of the top Secretary of State offices for organ donor sign-ups where over 9,000 people joined the registry in 2011.

"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."

To increase awareness and encourage more people to join Michigan's organ donor registry, this year's "Join the Team" campaign includes a focus on real life stories, including that of 11-year-old Jai'Wan Davis-Harbour of Taylor who has been on dialysis since he was 7 months old and is waiting for a kidney. Jai'Wan's face will appear on posters in Secretary of State branch offices across Michigan. To hear his story, visit

Additionally, 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.

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 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 Sign up for the official Secretary of State Twitter feed 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).


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.