OC ranks high among givers to organ donor campaign

OC ranks high among givers to organ donor campaign

OC ranks high among givers to organ donor campaign | organ donor awareness
By CHRIS MENEES
Messenger Staff Reporter
Obion Countians are generous in their support of organ donor awareness.
In fact, the county was ranked No. 1 in West Tennessee and was in the Top 10 statewide in the amount of contributions residents made to organ donor awareness last year.
Obion County Clerk Vollie Jean Boehms said Obion Countians contributed $8,634.45 in 2007 to rank ninth in the state in the amount contributed for organ donor awareness. That amount earned the county a fourth-place ranking statewide in the percentage of funds donated at 26.61 percent, according to the Tennessee County Clerks Organ Donor Awareness Foundation.
“In West Tennessee, we are No. 1 in both (amount and percentage contributed),” Mrs. Boehms said. “That’s really saying something for the people of Obion County as for their generosity. They are to be commended.”
Residents in the 95 counties across the state have the opportunity to contribute to organ donor awareness efforts when they renew their vehicle license plates annually at county clerks’ offices.
The Tennessee County Clerks Organ Donor Awareness Foundation reported for 2007 that the Top 10 counties statewide — which includes Obion County — reported about 72 percent of the $236,876.36 raised across the state. Since the total percentage reported was only 4.18 percent of the population, however, each county was asked to strive for a higher percentage for 2008.
Overall, 2007 was still a great year, according to the foundation.
“We had a great year — organ and tissue donations were up and many lives were saved or enhanced and a multitude of family members are relieved that their loved ones are in much better physical and emotional condition,” according to a memo from the foundation to all of the state’s county clerks.
In Tennessee, residents now have two ways to register as organ donors — either by signing up when they obtain or renew their driver’s licenses and now by the newest method of accessing a recently-launched online registry.
“The main one will be online,” Mrs. Boehms said.
Officials from the Mid-South Transplant Foundation and the Tennessee Department of Safety visited Mrs. Boehms’ office at the courthouse just last week to announce the launch of the state’s official online organ and tissue donor registry in Union City and Obion County.
Local organ recipient Will Hicks and his wife, Shirley, were among those in attendance at the brief program, which included the reading of a proclamation to designate Donate Life Tennessee Day in the area.
The Tennessee Organ and Tissue Donor Registry was enacted by a bill passed unanimously in the Tennessee General Assembly in 2006. The registry — called Donate Life Tennessee — is found online at www.tndonorregistry.org. It is a completely secure, comprehensive database of all Tennesseans who have given consent to be organ and tissue donors.
The Web site provides Tennesseans with extensive information on organ and tissue donation and makes it easy to document their legal consent to donation. Tennesseans can also sign up as donors when they obtain or renew a driver’s license or state ID through the Department of Safety or at county clerks’ offices that provide licensing services.
The Tennessee Department of Safety is mandated by the legislation to partner with Donate Life Tennessee in the registration of donors.
“We believe Donate Life Tennessee will increase organ and tissue donation, saving and renewing the lives of thousands of people in Tennessee and across the U.S.,” said Judy Shipman, executive director of the Mid-South Transplant Foundation. “By securely registering their decision to donate, Tennesseans can be sure their wish to give the gift of life will be carried out.”
The announcement also marks the beginning of the Donate Life Tennessee campaign. It is aimed at educating the public about the benefits of organ and tissue donation and increasing the number of registered donors. The campaign is sponsored by the Tennessee County Clerk Donor Awareness Foundation, the Tennessee Department of Safety, Mid-South Transplant Foundation and Tennessee Donor Services.
“The Donate Life Tennessee Organ and Tissue Donor Registry brings us to an exciting day in our work to save the lives of the more than 2,000 Tennesseans on the transplant waiting list,” Ms. Shipman said. “One Tennessean can save up to eight lives through organ donation and renew the quality of life for 50 others through cornea and tissue donation. Now, caring Tennesseans can check ‘yes’ to donation with the click of a mouse.”
Mid-South Transplant Foundation Inc. (MSTF) and Tennessee Donor Services (TDS) are non-profit, community-based organ procurement organizations designated by the federal government to provide for the recovery and transplantation of donated organs in the state of Tennessee. MSTF is headquartered in Memphis and serves 11 West Tennessee counties, as well as eastern Arkansas and northern Mississippi. TDS, headquarted in Nashville, also operates offices in Chattanooga, Knoxville and the Tri-cities areas. It serves 84 counties in Tennessee and eight counties in southwest Virginia.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at cmenees@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.12.08

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