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April is ‘National Donate Life Month’
√ Check the box YES, save a life and be someone’s hero
Submitted by the Office of Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns
Each year during the month of April, my office is pleased to join Donate Life New York State in celebrating “National Donate Life Month” in an effort to raise awareness of the lifesaving impact of organ, eye and tissue donation, and honoring those who have saved lives through the gift of donation.
By providing the opportunity for our customers to enroll in the NYS Donate Life registry, our local DMV offices are they key to saving and healing the lives of thousands of New Yorkers in need of a transplant. The “Gift of Life” comes in many different forms through many different stories, personalities, lives and backgrounds.
Just 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.
As you read this, over 8,100 New Yorkers are waiting for a life-saving transplant, including close to 800 people here in Western New York. Thousands more are waiting for life-enhancing tissue and eye donations.
We are very proud that our Erie County Auto Bureau plays a significant role in saving lives through the NYS Donate Life registry. I am pleased to report that, since 2017, close to 196,000 Erie County motorists enrolled in the Donate Life registry at their 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 46% 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 Connect Life, we have made substantial strides in the number of enrollments in Erie County, but we still have much work to do.
I encourage all motorists, 16 and older, to come to any Erie County Auto Bureau office to enroll and add the “Organ Donor” designation to your driver license or non-driver ID. Simply check “YES” and sign the New York state organ donation consent on the driver license application, or upon registering your vehicle in-person for the first time. 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!”
According to Connect Life, 83% of current registrants have done so through their local DMV when applying for or renewing their driver’s license, learner’s permit or non-driver ID. To learn more about saving lives through organ, eye, tissue and blood donation or enroll, please contact Connect Life Blood and Organ Donor Network at 716-529-4300 or go to the Donate Life registry website at donatelife.ny.gov.