Gov. Dave Heineman launched Nebraska’s observance of April as Donate Life Month. Donate Life Month is part of a national observance to increase awareness for lifesaving organ, eye and tissue donations.
“Donate Life Month brings attention to the more than 450 Nebraskans who are waiting for a potentially lifesaving transplant,” Gov. Heineman said. “I want to thank those families who have so selflessly given others a chance at life, as the many Nebraskans who have indicated their willingness to be organ donors.”
The Governor was joined by Dr. Joann Schaefer, Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Division of Public Health, Beverly Neth, Director of the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles, and Lisa Carmichael, Vice President of Donate Life Nebraska. In 2008, Dr. Schaefer received a liver transplant from a living donor. Neth has twice received living kidney donations from relatives.
In Nebraska, 450 individuals are currently on a waiting list for organ and tissue donations. In 2011, 261 Nebraskans received lifesaving organ transplants.
Dr. Schaefer said, “Part of me is about to turn 4 years old. I wouldn’t be here today without the generosity of my donor. His gift has given me a second chance to live my life and I will be eternally grateful.”
At the end of 2011, 699,015 Nebraskans were designated donors on the Nebraska Donor Registry, an increase of more than 12,000 registrations since the end of 2010. Approximately half of licensed drivers in Nebraska are designated as organ donors.
Neth said, “It’s gratifying to know that the Department plays a role in facilitating these lifesaving gifts. The role the DMV plays in supporting organ and tissue donation is one of the most satisfying elements of my job. I’m especially pleased that Nebraskans will be able to show their support of organ and tissue donation through the new Donate Life License plate.”
Carmichael said, “These numbers represent more than statistics. Each person who signs up as a donor can potentially save eight lives through organ donation, restore sight to two people through cornea donation, and improve mobility and health of up to 50 others through tissue donation. These are real lives that are being dramatically impacted by Nebraskans making the decision to sign up on the Nebraska Donor Registry.”
Fourteen Nebraska counties had at least 50 percent of applicants for driver’s license or state identification cards join the Nebraska Donor Registry in 2011.
DMV records indicated that 63 Nebraska counties have a donor designation rate between 40 and 49.9 percent. A goal set by Donate Life America and the donation and transplant community in 2006 was achieved this past fall. One hundred million people in the United States are now reported as registered organ, eye and tissue donors through state donor registries. The milestone is a testament to our human nature and our willingness to work together for the greater good.
The Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles is pleased to introduce Donate Life specialty license plates to promote organ, eye and tissue donation. In order for the new plates to be produced, the law requires that 500 applications be submitted along with a check for the annual fee of $70. Interested individuals can go to www.donatelifenebraska.com download and complete the application. Mail the completed application and check to Donate Life Nebraska.
Nebraskans are encouraged to join the 100 million individuals already registered as organ, eye and tissue donors by registering as donors at www.donatelifenebraska.com or by choosing the donor option when applying for or renewing their Nebraska driver’s license.