Donate Life America Announces 100 Millionth Organ, Eye and Tissue Donor Registered in the U.S.

Donate Life America Announces Significant Milestone Achieved with 100 Millionth Organ, Eye and Tissue Donor Registered in the U.S.

New national goal set to register 20 million more by the end of 2012

RICHMOND, October, 11 – Donate Life America (DLA) announced today that a key goal set by the donation and transplant community in 2006 was achieved this month. The United States can now boast that 100 million Americans — roughly 42 percent of the adult population –are registered as organ, eye and tissue donors in state donor registries.

Growth in the number of registered donors is vital because the need for transplants continues to rise. More than 112,000 people are currently waiting for lifesaving organ transplants. Thousands more await tissue transplants to resume their normal lives. Last year, more than 28,000 people received organ transplants, more than 40,000 received corneal transplants and hundreds of thousands received tissue transplants, yet 6,590 died awaiting organ transplants. A surge in the number of donors is necessary to save more lives. Therefore, as the donation and transplant community celebrates the accomplishment of registering 100 million people, work has already begun to reach the new national goal of registering 20 million new donors by the end of 2012. Twenty million additional donors would result in saving thousands more lives each year. The public is encouraged to register by visiting www.donatelife.net.

“At a time when we as a nation have difficulty finding common ground on many important issues, 100 million people have agreed on their desire to save lives by registering as donors. They are hope for all of the men, women and children in need of lifesaving transplants today. For that, we say thank you,” says David Fleming, President and CEO, Donate Life America. “While this achievement speaks volumes about the generosity of human beings, more work needs to be done to motivate Americans to register and save the lives of those in need.”

In 2006, DLA launched the Donor Designation Collaborative (DDC) as a nationwide effort to improve organ, eye and tissue donation rates. A main tactic for achieving the DDC’s goals is ensuring that each state has an effective system for allowing individuals to legally designate themselves as donors. Since the DDC’s launch, there has been a 45 percent increase in the number of designated donors in the United States.

On average, nearly 8 million people join a state donor registry each year; a majority (97 percent) joins through state departments of motor vehicles (DMV’s). Therefore, DLA builds strong relationships with many DMV officials throughout the nation to encourage education and training of their staff to help them better advocate for organ, eye and tissue donation.

“I am proud to witness meeting such a milestone in organ and tissue donor history,” says Jesse White, the Illinois Secretary of State. “Our ultimate goal is to see that all Americans become registered organ and tissue donors.”

As the DDC works to increase the number of donors, the high percentage of registrations through DMV’s poses a new challenge to overcome. The majority of state donor registries were created nearly a decade ago. Once a registry goes through its first driver’s license/ID card renewal cycle (ranging from every 4 to every 12 years depending on the state), new designated donors come from only three sources – first-time drivers, new residents, and current residents who previously elected not to register. This maturity factor decreases the ability to sustain high donation rates through DMV efforts alone– a fact that necessitates new strategies to promote registrations.

“As we lay the foundation to register an additional 20 million people by the end of 2012, we are developing strategies to overcome the obstacles presented by maturing registries. We are not deterred by the challenges ahead,” says Donate Life America Chairperson, Helen W. Bottenfield. “Our primary goal is to preserve human life and improve the quality of life for those in need of organ, corneal and tissue transplants. We will remain focused and find creative ways to reach, educate and motivate those who have not yet registered as donors.”

As of June 30, 2011, data reported by Donate Life America state teams revealed 42 percent of U.S. adults (age 18 and older) are registered as organ, eye and tissue donors. States with the highest percentage included: Alaska and Montana (78 percent each) and Washington (74 percent).

The public is encouraged to join the 100 million individuals already registered as organ, eye and tissue donors by visiting www.donatelife.net and registering today.