How Far We've Come

Donate Life MonthAPRIL 11, 2018

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, partners celebrate
growth of Michigan Organ Donor Registry

Citing the addition of nearly 3 million people to the Michigan Organ Donor Registry since 2011, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson held her final Donate Life Day event and thanked staff and volunteers who have expanded the registry.

Johnson joined partners Gift of Life Michigan and Eversight at Hurley Medical Center in Flint Wednesday to celebrate April as Donate Life Month.

“When I took office in 2011, only 27 percent of Michigan adults had signed up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, and now that number is at 63 percent,” Johnson said. “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Secretary of State staff, volunteers and partners, we have come a long way in improving the lives of Michigan residents in need of a life-saving or life-changing transplant.”

Johnson made huge changes in the way the Secretary of State’s Office approached organ donation when she took office in 2011. Working with her partners like Gift of Life Michigan and Eversight, she created an advisory task force, put organ donor reminders on widely-used 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.

Johnson was joined by Dorrie Dils, CEO for Gift of Life Michigan, the state’s organ and tissue recovery program; Diana Kern, vice president for philanthropy for Eversight, the state’s cornea and eye tissue recovery program; Hurley Medical Center vice president and chief medical officer Dr. Michael Jaggi; a pediatric heart recipient from Rochester Hills; a Saginaw resident waiting for a kidney; 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. We honor life through donation, and together, we are building a culture where donation is becoming the norm across the state of Michigan.”

Johnson presented a Shining Star Award to Valerie Canary, a registered nurse at Hurley Medical Center who acts as the center’s donation liaison. The number of donors has risen since Canary became the liaison in 2015. She has also taken her passion for donation into the Flint community, registering new donors and educating the public. Shining Stars are given to groups or individuals who show exceptional dedication, outstanding support, novel partnerships or extraordinary efforts in the area of organ, tissue and eye donor awareness.

Today also marks Donate Life Day when dozens of volunteers from Gift of Life Michigan, Eversight, 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.

“Donate Life Day continues to inspire Michiganians to register their decision to donate. We added more than 341,000 new names to the Michigan Organ Donor Registry last year,” Kern said. “Eversight is grateful to partner with the Secretary of State and her staff, because we’re working together to make a direct impact in the lives of those in need.”

Anyone can join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry by visiting www.Michigan.gov/organdonation 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. People will receive a heart-logo sticker when people join the registry at a Secretary of State office or online. A new card with a permanent heart emblem is issued at renewal time. One person can transform the lives of up to 75 people through organ, tissue and eye donation.

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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).