Steps are being made in Lansing to recognize April as Donate Life Month. The cause is being championed by one of the Tri-City area’s state senators, Kevin Daley, who tragically lost his son Thomas more than 10 years ago in an accident. Thomas was an organ donor and since his passing, his family has advocated for and raised awareness about the importance of organ donation.

Recently, Senator Daley introduced a resolution that would give April that designation and hopefully help more people get life-saving organ transplants. Last year alone, more than 1,000 recipients were helped by organ donations by Michigan residents, Daley noted. According to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office, a person’s decision to become an organ donor can save up to eight lives and provide the tissues and corneas that can improve 75 lives.

Advocates have been working to help educate the general public about the state’s Donor Registry and how it works. It’s worth noting that the registry is a confidential database that can only be accessed by Gift of Life Michigan to assist hospitals in the recovery and transplantation of organs and tissues. Additionally, there are no age restrictions when it comes to joining the Donor Registry. According to the Secretary of State, minors may register with or without parental support, but their parents make the final decision about donation until they turn 18. Regardless of age, advocates encourage potential donors to discuss their decision with their family.

Joining the Donor Registry is a pretty easy process. It can be done online through the Secretary of State’s office, during an in-person visit to a Secretary of State branch office or by mail when a driver or ID holder renew. Those who register, will receive a heart symbol for their license or ID card.

It’s also noteworthy that organ and tissue donation can have a lasting impact on recipients. According to a graphic on the state’s website, a cornea transplant can help improve someone’s sight for 20 years. A kidney transplant can improve a recipient’s life for an average of 12-15 years. The five-year survival rate for someone receiving a heart transplant is 70 percent or more. Nearly 3,000 people in the United States have experienced better quality of life after having had an intestinal transplant.

According to Gift of Life Michigan, more than 106,000 people are currently on the national organ transplant waiting list. We applaud all those working to bring more attention to this cause. Kudos to those who’ve registered to be an organ donor. Your decision gives others a sense of hope for a healthy future.