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FOR RELEASE: March 10, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Life is a Gift – and so is Organ and Tissue Donation

You probably won’t be thinking about organ, eye and tissue donation the next time you visit your local tag agent’s office to renew your driver’s license or car tag. Even so, you might notice a gift box on the counter with brochures that proclaim, “Life is a Gift.” Contained in the small brochure is important information regarding organ and tissue donation, along with a donor card you can complete and carry with you.

This “Life is a Gift” campaign has been developed by the Oklahoma Organ Donor Education and Awareness Program Advisory Council to encourage Oklahomans to donate their organs, eyes and tissues after death. The campaign asks Oklahomans to check the organ donor box when they get their driver’s license and carry the donor card included in the “Life is a Gift” brochure. While at the tag agency, you will be asked if you want to add a dollar to the cost of your license or tag to be donated to the Organ Donor Education and Awareness Program Fund. This contribution is used to help educate Oklahomans about the benefits of organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

More than 600 Oklahomans are currently on a waiting list for an organ transplant and thousands more are in need of tissue transplants. The waiting list far exceeds the number of organs available. Part of the problem is education – not enough Oklahomans understand the need for donation and how it can save lives and improve the quality of life for so many. Some people may not have considered donation because they fear that their medical care while alive may be impacted, or that there would be a cost to their family if their organs were donated after death, or they might even be concerned that their religion would not approve of donation. In fact, organ, eye and tissue recovery takes place only after all efforts to save your life have been implemented and death has been legally declared. The doctors who work to save your life are entirely separate from the medical team who would be involved in recovering your organs and tissues. There would be no cost to your family or estate for donating your organs, and all major religions consider organ, eye and tissue donation as a gift – an act of charity.

In 2001, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a law that makes consent from next-of-kin unnecessary if a donor card or driver’s license indicates that an adult wishes to be an organ donor. Even so, this decision should be discussed with family and friends if the donor card or driver’s license is not found, so they will be aware of the donor’s wishes.

The Oklahoma Organ Donor Education and Awareness Program Advisory Council was created as part of state legislation passed in 2000 to promote and encourage organ, eye and tissue donor education and awareness in Oklahoma. Part of that legislation mandated that outreach education on organ and tissue donation be provided when applicants apply for a new or renewal driver license, vehicle title or license tag. The legislation also provided that applicants be given the opportunity to donate a one dollar minimum contribution to the Organ Donor Education and Awareness Program Revolving Fund to continue education efforts on organ and tissue donation.

More than one million “Life is a Gift” brochures have been distributed to tag agents across the state. For a copy, or for more information about organ and tissue donation, call 1-800-826-LIFE.

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