Last year, more than 1.6 million Texans registered on the Glenda P. Dawson Donate Life Texas Registry indicating their desire to donate their organs, boosting the total number of state registrants to 5 million.
“The DPS driver’s license system is the primary avenue for an individual to register as a donor, and we are proud to be a part of this program aimed at saving lives,” said Steven McCraw, director of Department of Public Safety. “Each year more and more Texans make the choice to participate in the Donate Life Texas Registry, and every new donor has the potential to change the lives of many others.”
As of Dec. 31, the organ donor registry included 4.8 million Texans, accounting for 25 percent of the state’s adult population.
Last year’s monthly registration totals averaged about 138,000 individuals, a 177 percent increase over the average monthly totals for 2012.
In 2013, 143 DPS registered donors saved 486 lives, according to Donate Life Texas.
“The relationship with the DPS officers is absolutely critical to the growth of the donor registry,” said Suzy Miller, Southwest Transplant Alliance public relations officer.
“The more engagement with the DPS that has grown over time has resulted in ever increasing number of people joining the registry.”
Many people think about becoming organ donors and are in favor of becoming donors, but don’t take the action to sign up on the registry on their own, Miller said.
When people apply for, or renew, their Texas driver’s license at the DPS office, they are asked if they want to join the organ donor registry.
“We really salute the DPS commitment for making it a priority,” she said.
Having the conversation with family and friends on becoming an organ donor is still important, Miller said.
“If you are on the registry, that does provide that first-person consent, but it’s still an important conversation to have with friends and family and is a great way to share your commitment and may influence another person to join the registry,” she said.
For those who are not on the registry, having that conversation is critical, because a representative of the hospital will go to the next of kin in those situations and ask for authorization and having family know those preferences has significance influence.
Scott & White, where the Southwest Transplant Alliance has a satellite office, performs heart, lung, kidney, pancreas, bone, skin and cornea transplants.
The 79th Texas Legislature created the registry in 2005, and in recent years, legislation has helped streamline the registration process, and additional DPS training helped increase participation. Residents can register at their local DPS office or enroll online at www.donatelifetexas.org or www.donevidatexas.org.
“In four short years, Donate Life Texas and the Texas Department of Public Safety have increased the number of registered donors in Texas from 500,000 to nearly 5 million,” said Patti Niles, president of Donate Life Texas.
As of Friday, more than 11,700 people in Texas were on the waiting list for organ or tissue transplants, according to United Network for Organ Sharing.
For information on donations, call Southwest Transplant Alliance at 800-788-8058 or go to www.organ.org.
More than 50 people can be helped by one organ and tissue donor.
The difference one donor can make:
• Donate kidneys to free two people from dialysis treatments.
• Save the lives of patients awaiting heart, liver, lung or pancreas transplants.
• Give sight to two people through the donation of corneas.
• Donate bone to help repair injured joints or to help save an arm or leg threatened by cancer.
• Help burn victims heal more quickly through donation of skin and provide healthy heart valves for someone whose life is threatened by malfunctioning or diseased valves.