Check the box ‘Yes,’ save a life, and be someone’s hero!
By Erie County Clerk Michael P. Kearns
April is National Donate Life Month and my staff at the Erie County Auto Bureau are pleased to join in the effort to alert customers of the donor crisis and encourage everyone to enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry. Through organ, eye and tissue donation, you can be someone’s hero. The “Gift of Life” comes in many different forms through many different stories, personalities, lives and backgrounds. Few things we leave behind in life could be as important.
As you read this, as many as 10,000 New Yorkers are waiting for a lifesaving transplant, including close to 800 people here in Western New York. Thousands more are waiting for life-enhancing tissue and eye donations. Each year, approximately 500 men, women and children in New York state die because an organ does not become available in time to save their lives.
One person who donates organs (hearts, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas and intestines) can save up to eight lives; while a tissue or eye donor (corneas, bone, skin, heart valves, tendons, veins, etc.) can improve more than 75 lives by restoring eyesight, helping fight infections in burn patients and preventing the loss of mobility and disability.
We are very proud that our Erie County Auto Bureau plays a significant role in saving lives through the New York State Donate Life Registry. I am pleased to report, since 2017, over 185,000 Erie County motorists enrolled in the Donate Life Registry at the local auto bureau. Erie County has also surpassed the statewide statistic by registering 58% of customers when they checked the box “Yes” to this life-saving cause, compared to 45% statewide. These unprecedented enrollment numbers are something the staff of the Erie County Auto Bureau is very proud of.
I want to thank the staff of the Erie County Auto Bureau for their efforts in raising awareness and providing motorists with valuable information on the importance of organ, tissue and eye donation. Together with our community partners at ConnectLife, we have made substantial strides in the number of enrollments in Erie County, but we still have much work to do.
According to ConnectLife, 80% of people that become organ donors register through their DMV. I encourage all motorists to come to any Erie County Auto Bureau office and enroll in the Donate Life Registry by adding the “Organ Donor” designation to your driver license or ID. Simply check “Yes” and sign the New York state organ donation consent on the application or renewal form. When you do, a symbol of a heart and the words "Organ Donor" will be printed on the front of your new driver license or non-driver identification card at no extra cost. So, when someone asks you: “Do you have a heart?” you can proudly answer: “Yes!”
The average citizen gets very few chances to be a hero and save the life of another person right here in our own community. Your decision can be a precious gift – the gift of life. Let's donate life, Erie County!
To learn more about saving lives through organ, eye, tissue and blood donation, please contact ConnectLife Blood and Organ Donor Network at 716-529-4300 or visit connectlife.org.