Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

January 29, 2013

Organ donor icon now on drivers licenses

WESTWOOD — Kentucky drivers who agree to be organ donors can now have their wishes documented on their driver’s licenses with a printed icon.

Beginning last week, Kentucky joined 46 other states when it began printing the new logo — a blue heart with the words “organ donor” — on licenses. It replaced the old “sticker and signature” method.

Kentucky circuit clerk’s offices already asked patrons if they wanted to be on the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry and if they wanted to donate $1 to the Trust For Life, but now they will also ask if they would like to have the organ donation emblem printed on their licenses. Those who indicate they want to be organ donors will be added to the confidential database of registered organ donors in the state.

The registry was created in 2006, by the legislature. Kentuckians can also join the registry online at donatelife.ky.org. Registration is free, as is the new printed logo.

The new driver’s license designation is part of a slate of changes to Kentucky licenses that began in 2012. Those included new security features such as a ghost image to reduce fraud capability. A new veterans designation was also added for honorably discharged military personnel.

Before the new designation on licenses, according to transportation officials, Kentuckians using a license or ID card to express their wishes for organ donation could do so only by signing — with two witnesses — a statement on the back of the identification card. That option is still available, but it is not as definitive as joining the registry because a license may not be available at the time of death, according to officials.

“For more than 20 years, the circuit clerks of Kentucky have been educating communities about the life-saving mission of organ donation. Thousands of kids and adults are waiting for an organ transplant today. Now Kentuckians can proudly show their support for these patients in need,” said Linda Avery, Calloway County circuit court clerk and Trust for Life president. “Every heart we print gives hope to patients and families in need.”

“This is an important advancement in Kentucky,” said Shelley Snyder, executive director of Trust for Life. “The organ donor will emphasize that it’s not about signing the back of your license anymore. It’s about saying ‘Yes’ and joining the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry,” she said.

Those wishing to add the blue heart to their license prior to their driver’s license renewal time can purchase a duplicate license at their circuit clerk’s office for $12. The cost involved is for the license renewal or duplicate.  

According to the Trust for Life, more than 1.2 million Kentuckians have registered to be organ donors. However, that represents only about 35 percent of residents.

Since the new organ donor designation became available last week, Boyd County Circuit Clerk Linda Baker said 50 local residents have opted to have the symbol printed on their driver’s licenses and/or ID cards.  In 2012, the office issued 995 licenses. Only 46 people agreed to be added to the registry. There have been 5,002 names of Boyd Countians added to the registry since 2009.

The rates were slightly better in Greenup County, where of the 684 licenses issued in 2012, 86 new individuals joined the registry.  There have been 8,947 names of Greenup Countians added to the registry since 2007.

In Carter County, of the 542 licenses issued, there were 46 new names added to the registry. It contains 1,064 names from Carter County.

According to the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, every 14 minutes a new name is added to the waiting list for organ donations. Every day, 18 patients die waiting for an organ transplant.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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