Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Driver License Division
Did you know that Utah is consistently in the top 5 states with regard to the number of people who have registered as organ, eye and tissue donors? And that over 99 percent of the people who registered as organ donors last year did so on their driver license or state ID card?
On Valentine’s Day, Thursday, February 14, driver license employees throughout Utah wore special red t-shirts with a reminder to people to consider registering as a donor. To help raise awareness of the life-saving possibilities of organ donation and the ease of registering as a donor, the Driver License Division partnered with Yes Utah, the Utah Donor Registry, and held a press conference at the Fairpark DLD Office.
Several heart transplant recipients attended the event to show their appreciation to driver license division employees and several individuals who have personal connections to donation shared their stories.
Tracy Schmidt, executive director of Intermountain Donor Services, welcomed everyone to the event and noted that while on Valentine’s Day, we usually think of romantic love, the press conference would instead focus on “the love of people that care and about all of the individuals here in the state of Utah who care enough and are willing to sign up to be organ, eye and tissue donors and what a difference that makes.”
Driver License Division director Chris Caras said, “On behalf of Driver License Division and the Department of Public Safety, I want to say how excited we are to be part of this program. I think a lot of us go into public safety because there’s a part of us that wants to make a difference. So when you think about that, what greater impact can there be than the impact on people” that the organ donation program has. The organ donation program is “really consistent with what the Department of Public Safety does every day,” he said. “We are proud to be part of starting that conversation and sharing information about how much of an impact the organ donation program can have on lives in the state of Utah.”
Claire Larson, who is the recipient of a heart transplant, asked those in attendance who were donor recipients to raise their hands. “The most important thing today, is to say thank you to the Driver License Division and all of the amazing employees that are here who educate and bring awareness to organ donation,” she said. “Because of you there are people like us, not just here but people all over the state and all over the country, who have this amazing gift of life because of what you do every day.”
Jackie Meyer, a DLD employee in the Orem office, spoke about how DLD employees are able to answer customer’s questions about organ donation when they are in the office. She also shared how her family lost a close friend, who had chosen to be an organ donor. “Although it was a devastating loss for our family,” she said, “there is some comfort in knowing that some of his organs were able to be donated.”
Mitchell Salas is currently on the transplant waiting list. He spoke about how waiting for an organ can be difficult because you can’t be sure you’ll ever get the organ you need. “I have hope one day that because of this program, that I’ll be able to get someone’s kidney.”
Utah State Senator Ralph Okerlund received a heart transplant in May of 2018. He said that there isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t think of his donor. As he remarked about the sign in front of the Fairpark DLD office that says that a million people have signed up to be donors, he noted that “much of the ability to do that comes from the Driver License Division and all of the offices throughout the state that have been so helpful to do that.”
You can watch the full press conference below.
The option to register one’s wish to be an organ, eye and tissue donor on a driver license or state ID makes the process very easy. People simply check a box on the application form. If customers have questions regarding donation, there are brochures available in driver license offices as well as pens that include a number to call with questions. Some locations have a PowerPoint on their queuing monitors with donation information that customers can watch as they wait. All these things help the public become better educated to make this lifesaving decision.
To learn more about organ, eye and tissue donation, please visit to www.yesutah.org.