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Sign up to be an organ donor and save lives

The following column was submitted by Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs.

During April, National Donate Life Month, consider helping the growing list of people living on hope.

As you read this, more than 10,000 New Yorkers are waiting for lifesaving organs, including more than 500, right here in Western New York. Thousands more are waiting for life-enhancing tissue and eye donations, with 118 people added to the national organ transplant list, on a daily basis.

The good news is, every day, approximately 74 individuals will get a new lease on life, by receiving an organ transplant.

One organ and tissue donor has the ability to save and enhance the lives of up to 50 people.

I am very proud that our Erie County Auto Bureau plays a significant role in saving lives, through the New York State Donate Life Registry. More than 180,000 Erie County residents have enrolled in this registry, through the department of motor vehicles.

I encourage all motorists to enroll in the Donate Life Registry, at any of the Erie County Auto Bureau offices. Add the “organ donor” designation to your driver’s license or identification card, by completing an MV-44 and signing the “New York state organ and tissue donation” consent box, on any license or non-driver ID application.

When you enroll through the DMV, as part of a license, permit or non-driver ID transaction, a symbol of a red heart and the words “organ donor” will be printed on the front of your document, at no extra charge. When someone asks, “Do you have a heart?” you can answer, “Yes!”

Anyone can be a donor, regardless of his or her age, race or medical history. Many people are hesitant about organ and tissue donation, simply because they do not know enough about this program or were never asked to participate.

By registering as an organ donor, you are giving consent for the recovery of your organs, tissues and eyes, for the purposes of transplantation and research, at the time of your death. Signing up is simple, but there are specific steps you must take.

The first and most important course of action is to discuss your wishes, with your family. Ensure they are aware of your decision. Then, sign up for the national registry.

Unyts and its volunteers will be on hand, at our auto bureau offices, throughout the month of April, to answer any questions, regarding the organ and tissue donation process.

If you have further questions about how to enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry, contact the Erie County Auto Bureau’s Call Center at 858-7450.

For complete information about organ donations, visit www.nydrives4life.com or www.unyts.org.

I am pleased to join in the effort to alert our customers of the donor crises and encourage everyone to enroll in the Donate Life Registry. The average citizen gets very few chances to save the life of another. Through organ and tissue donation, you can.

This April, celebrate Donate Life Month, by educating yourself and making an informed decision. Help us ensure that every person waiting for a transplant receives one. Your decision can be a precious gift: the gift of life.
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