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How the DMV is helping to save lives | Opinion

PennDOT centers are where 95 percent of Pennsylvanians who register to be organ and tissue donors sign up.

Department of Motor Vehicles on 8th Street . Organ
Department of Motor Vehicles on 8th Street . OrganRead moreSTU BYKOFSKY / Staff

Like most Pennsylvanians, you may not think often about PennDOT or your local driver's license center, except when you need to renew your driver's license. That is, unless you are among the 8,000 Pennsylvanians waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.

In addition to providing essential services to millions of Pennsylvanians – in the second quarter of this year alone, that number was nearly 10 million – your local PennDOT center is helping to save lives, every day.

PennDOT centers are where 95 percent of Pennsylvanians who register to be organ and tissue donors sign up. Where Pennsylvanians say "yes" to potentially saving the life of one of the more than 8,000 people in our state currently on the waiting list. Where Pennsylvanians say they would give the gift of life.

PennDOT's partnership and commitment to asking each customer to register as an organ, tissue, and cornea donor gives hope to those among us who are waiting for a second chance at life.

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Nearly all Pennsylvanians say they support organ donation, but the reality is that less than half are actually registered as donors. And in Pennsylvania — where someone dies every 18 hours waiting for an organ transplant — supporting them is what drives the mission of our organizations each and every day. It should drive more Pennsylvanians to register as organ donors. We all have the unique opportunity to potentially help save the life of a neighbor, a child, or simply a fellow Pennsylvanian.

As you would expect, organ donation rates vary across the state.

In this region, Chester County has the highest rate of organ donation designations per registered drivers at 58.3 percent thanks to the work of the PennDOT centers here and the many who have registered. Montgomery County is a close second at 53.88 percent. Sadly, 41 of our 67 counties have registration rates below 50 percent.

Of course, we are working to increase organ donor registration rates to 100 percent in all 67 counties. When we try to understand why so many Pennsylvanians say they support organ donation but do not register as donors, we often hear that they need more information or haven't thought about it much beyond the request made at their local PennDOT center.

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We hope to change that this week as our team of dedicated volunteers and staff from Philadelphia's Gift of Life and Pittsburgh's CORE will be out talking to people and sharing information at PennDOT centers across the state about organ donation, as well as celebrating the DMV's unsung role in our statewide mission to register all eligible Pennsylvanians as organ, tissue, and cornea donors.

We encourage you to stop by your local PennDOT center to pick up information and register to be an organ donor. Or, you can always learn more and register to be an organ donor in just a few seconds, any time, day or night, on the statewide Donate Life PA website

Susan A. Stuart is president and CEO of the Center for Organ Recovery & Education. Howard M. Nathan, is president and CEO of Gift of Life Donor Program.