DPS Signs Up Record Number of Organ Donors

Procedural changes at DPS leads to surge of potential organ donors

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A state lawmaker is proposing a bill to allow people to get appointments for renewing their license if they plan to register to be organ donors. (Published Thursday, Feb 28, 2013)

    The Texas Department of Public Safety is signing up Texans in record numbers to be organ and tissue donors.

    A heart-shaped donor log is embedded on the donor's license or ID card -- legal proof of the person's consent to donate his or her organs. The person's family cannot revoke the decision.

    "When we first started the registry, we couldn't get 50,000 registered in a year," said Pam Silvestri, Southwest Transplant Alliance spokeswoman. "And we got triple that in 30 days in January."

    In January 2013, 152,000 people registered to be organ and tissue donors, more than the two previous January totals combined.

    Silvestri said it is good news for the more than 11,000 Texans waiting for potentially life-saving organs.

    "For the people waiting for organs, this is showing them that Texans want to give and they didn't think that before, they didn't understand it," Silvestri said. "And now they get that Texans want them to live, and that's exciting."

    The surge in donor registrations is the result of a simple question DPS clerks are now required to ask of all applicants: "Would you like to be an organ donor today?"

    Although Texans can join the registry online through the Donate Life Texas website, most people won't ever take the time to do that. But everyone has to visit a DPS office at some point to apply for, renew or replace their identification.

    DPS also now includes sessions on organ donation during training for new hires. Employees get to meet people who've received life-saving organ transplants from donors who registered through DPS.

    "It really puts a little bit of a personal spin on it for those technicians," DPS spokesman Trooper Lonnie Haschel said.

    "I think we'll see more lives saved because of it, and that's really the bottom line," Silvestri said. "If more people are registered and more organs are available, more transplants are going to happen and less people are going to die waiting."