ST. PAUL, Minn. — Donor. That word is now on more Minnesota driver’s licenses than ever thanks to a partnership between the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Minnesota’s three donation agencies.
The number of registered donors in Minnesota has increased 13 percent in three years to 2.6 million. Nearly 63 percent of Minnesotans are registered as organ, eye and tissue donors, compared to 45 percent nationally.
The success is due in large part to the ongoing support and commitment of LifeSource, Minnesota Lions Eye Bank and American Donor Services. These non-profit organizations are dedicated to saving lives through organ, eye and tissue donation.
The effort is getting a boost from the “You & $2” program, which has raised more than $108,000 since 2012.
Minnesotans applying for or renewing their driver’s licenses or state ID cards are able to contribute $2 to the program, which funds educational efforts about life-saving organ donations. A portion of this fund was used to develop a new curriculum to educate Minnesota students taking driver’s education courses about the importance of donation.
“Minnesotans are generous and are eager to support important work, so it’s no wonder that more than half of our friends and neighbors are organ donors,” said Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman. “Our strong partnership with donation agencies has been the foundation for this success, and we are pleased that they will be able to reach even more people with the lifesaving message of organ donation through this new curriculum.”
The new curriculum provides information about the decision to become a donor. The highlight is an emotional video featuring stories of Minnesota teens touched by donation and transplant. The video will be used by state driver education programs. Nearly 450,000 students participated in a driver education course from 2008-2012.
Although the increase in the number of donors is significant and Minnesota ranks higher than the national average, more than 3,100 Minnesotans are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. In 2012, 3,845 people in the United States — 101 in Minnesota — died while on the transplant list because an organ was not available.
“Our hope is by providing this opportunity to fund critical education we will increase our community’s understanding of the importance for donation and inspire Minnesotans to register,” said Susan Gunderson, Chief Executive Officer at LifeSource. “Our vision is that everyone shares the gift of life, and that no one should die because of a shortage of organs available for transplant.”
Minnesotans applying for or renewing their driver’s licenses or state ID cards have long had the opportunity to check a box to designate themselves organ, tissue and eye donors. Annually, more than 1.7 million people apply for or renew their Minnesota driver’s license or state ID.
Minnesotans can find the new curriculum and video, as well as register to be a donor, at www.DonateLifeMN.org.