Patti Steele Special to the Reporter-News
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
A new state law making it easier to register online to become an organ or tissue donor should greatly increase the number of donors, a donor advocate said Tuesday.
The law, which went into effect Tuesday, allows people to enroll in the online donor registry giving only an electronic signature.
Previously, donors had to mail in their registration with two witness signatures to validate their decision.
The law also changes the question people will be asked when applying for driver’s licenses. Previously, prospective donors were asked: “In the event of your death would you like to make an anatomical gift.”
“Most people said ‘no,” said Pam Silvestri, director of communications for Southwest Transplant Alliance in Dallas, which coordinates transplants in the Abilene area. “First they bring up death and many people don’t know what an anatomical gift is. The question sounds like it was written by an attorney.”
Now people will be asked simply: “Would you like to register to be an organ donor,” Silvestri said. “We’re hoping most people say yes,” she said. “I think we’ll see a dramatic increase in the number of organ donors.”
Texas has a statewide donor registry program operated by the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Glenda Dawson Donate Life Texas registry is available at www.donatelifetexas.org. Southwest and other regional donor organizations use the registry to locate donors.
Both Abilene Regional Medical Center and Hendrick Medical Center work with Southwest Transplant Alliance to coordinate donors and recipients.
The Glenda Dawson registry is named in memory of State Rep. Glenda Dawson’s work in getting a donor, education, awareness and registry program in Texas, according to the donor Web site. The law creating the registry went into effect in September 2006 and was re-named for Dawson in 2007.
The registry is funded by a $1 contribution that Texans can make when applying for or renewing their driver’s license or identification card, or when registering their vehicle. Nationwide, there are about 102,670 people on waiting lists for organs. In Texas, they number 9,326, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services Web site.
The majority in Texas — 7,096 — are awaiting kidney transplants followed by 1,660 awaiting liver transplants. In 2007, nearly 500 people in Texas died waiting for organ transplants.
“Before the Texas registry there was no official, centralized list of people who wanted to give consent to being donors,” according to the Web site. “The Web-based registry helps streamline the donation process at a time when medical decisions and procedures must happen quickly.”
- Register to be an organ and tissue donor today.