CHICAGO, April 1, 2008 In celebration of April beingNational Donate Life Month, Donate Life Illinois and Secretary of State JesseWhite are urging Illinoisans to take 30 seconds to register in the state's neworgan/tissue donor registry and help the 4,700 Illinoisans currently waitingfor a lifesaving transplant.
"I am overwhelmed by the number of Illinois residents who commit to savingother people's lives by joining the state's organ and tissue donor program,"said White. "This Donate Life Month, I encourage everyone to make sure theyjoin the new registry and help in our effort to give the thousands of peopleon the transplant waiting list the greatest gift of all -- the gift of life."
National Donate Life Month is designated for hosting events at businesses,colleges, hospitals and communities throughout the state to educate the publicabout organ/tissue donation and encourage donor registration.
This April, Donate Life Month coincides with the completion of Donate LifeIllinois' initial 18-month campaign goal of registering 3.5 millionIllinoisans in the state's new registry by April 2008. To reach this goal,Donate Life Illinois is leading the "Drive for 3.5," a statewide effort tomeet and surpass the campaign's registration goal before the end of the month.Currently, more than 3.2 million residents have joined the new registry.
"Surpassing 3.5 million registrations in just 18 months is a fantasticaccomplishment, but there is still more work to be done," said Dave Bosch,chair of Donate Life Illinois. "There were over 6 million people signed up inthe state's old donor intent registry which required additional witnesses foryou to become a donor. If these people have not registered since January 1,2006, they need to re-register in the new registry to ensure their wishes as adonor are honored."
As part of the Drive, Bosch will be visiting media outlets in citiesthroughout the state to address popular myths and misconceptions pertaining toage, health, race, religion and wealth that often prevent people fromregistering.
Another major component of the Drive will involve members of Donate LifeIllinois driving to college campuses throughout Illinois and joiningparticipating student groups in hosting campus and community registrationdrives.
Schools with participating student groups include: Augustana College,Bradley University, College of DuPage, DePaul University, Eastern IllinoisUniversity, Illinois Wesleyan University, Knox College, Loyola University,Midwestern University, North Central College, North Park University, NorthernIllinois University, University of Chicago, University of IllinoisUrbana-Champaign and Western Illinois University.
In conjunction with their campaign efforts, Donate Life Illinois is alsorunning advertisements on the CTA highlighting the fact that it only takes 30seconds to register online and help save lives. The ads feature donorrecipients and supporters who have registered their decision to becomelifesaving donors.
More than 300 patients at Illinois' eight transplant centers die each yearwaiting for organ donations. Illinois established its new "first personconsent" donor registry Jan. 1, 2006, to help save more of those lives byensuring that a person's end-of-life wish to donate is honored and cannot beoverridden at the time of death.
Under Illinois' previous "donor intent" registry, additional consent wasrequired from family members or other legal authority for donation to takeplace. Potential donors' wishes were overridden nearly 20% of the time-hadthose wishes been carried out, more than 100 lifesaving organ transplantscould have taken place each year.
Signing the back of your license no longer makes you a donor in Illinois.Illinoisans need to join the new donor registry by visiting the Donate LifeIllinois' website at http://www.DonateLifeIllinois.org; vis