Following a concerted effort by New Jersey's Motor Vehicle Commission to ask every customer about organ donation, the number of registered donors in the state shot up last year.

The number of people who registered as donors at MVC offices rose from 626,857 in 2011 to 713,702 in 2012, up 14 percent. In total, the number of registered donors in New Jersey went up by 4.5 percent during that time period to 2.4 million.

The numbers were highlighted Thursday at a news conference at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, which performs organ transplants. April is National Donate Life month.

Raymond Martinez, chief administrator of the MVC, has been visiting each of the MVC's 39 agencies this month to talk about the importance of organ donation. Last week, more than 75,000 people were on the active waiting list for organs, mostly for kidneys, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

"This is probably one of the most important things we do," Martinez said by phone. "At the end of the line, we may be helping to save someone's life."

Martinez said he has no personal connection to transplantation, but has met employees during his tour who have been living donors, are related to donors, are on the waiting list for a transplant, or have had a transplant.

In New Jersey, residents can register to be an organ or tissue donor during a driver's license or ID transaction or online at To register on paper, call 800-742-7365.

John Green, a spokesman for Gift of Life Donor Program in Philadelphia, said 32.5 percent of New Jersey drivers are now registered donors. The national average is 45 percent.

In Pennsylvania, 45.6 percent of drivers are registered as donors. The number of registered donors in Pennsylvania rose by 1.4 percent between the end of 2011 and the end of 2012 to 4.7 million.