Record-setting 44,000 register as organ donors

SEPTEMBER 1, 2011Image: Restart the Heart

Secretary Johnson announces 40-percent jump in August sign-ups

More than 44,000 Michigan residents registered as organ, tissue and eye donors during August, setting a record for the most sign-ups in a month and continuing the state's unprecedented surge in registrations, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced today.

"There are 2.3 million names on Michigan's donor registry, and we know millions more residents will make this life-saving decision to donate if asked," Johnson said. "With every yes, we are improving the odds for those whose lives depend on receiving a transplant."

The number of registrations has increased significantly since Johnson, working with advocacy partners Gift of Life Michigan and the Michigan Eye-Bank, launched her RESTART THE HEART campaign in April. As part of that campaign, Johnson directed branch employees, time permitting, to ask customers if they would like to sign up on the registry.

Johnson also pushed for other changes, include placing reminders on widely used Secretary of State forms, leveraging the department's website to publicize efforts, forming an advisory committee to develop recommendations and encouraging donation via social media.

In August, a total of 44,101 people joined the organ donor registry, compared to 31,403 in August 2010. It was the fourth consecutive month that registry sign-ups have increased by double digits. May was up 20 percent over May 2010, June was up 25 percent and August 28 percent.

"We are thrilled," said Richard Pietroski, CEO of Gift of Life Michigan, the state's organ and tissue recovery organization. "This demonstrates the commitment the people of our state have to saving and improving lives. And it also shows what can be accomplished when the Secretary of State, Gift of Life and our partners like the Michigan Eye-Bank join forces in this important mission."

Marge Del Greco of Farmington Hills, a volunteer area leader for Gift of Life Michigan in Oakland County and the recipient of two liver transplants in 2004 and again in 2009, welcomed the good news about the increase.

"The thought of 40,000 people registering in one month is amazing to me," Del Greco said. "I have been blessed twice as a recipient with the most precious gift there is and I am thrilled by the thought that the waiting time for transplants may be decreasing as a result. Organ donors are heroes and by adding their name to the registry, anyone can be one."

Michigan is ranked 44th in the country in terms of registrations with 2.3 million residents registered as donors--less than one-third of the state's adult population. Each organ donor has the potential to save eight lives and enhance the lives of as many as 50 patients.

Johnson said any residents interested in joining the registry may sign up at the Secretary of State website at Doing so only takes a minute or two. Signing the back of your driver's license does not enroll you in the registry.

Donors will receive a heart sticker for their license to indicate their membership on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry. Those getting new driver's licenses will have a permanent heart symbol on their driver's license.

For more information about organ donation and the Secretary of State's Office, visit the website above and sign up for the official SOS Twitter feed,, and Facebook updates,


For media questions, please call Tracy Ward at 517-373-2520.