June 14, 2024

Healt Hid

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Over 12,000 Michiganders register as organ donors through tax forms

3 min read

DETROIT – In July 2023, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the Check Your Heart Act into law, which made Michigan the first state to enable residents to sign up to be an organ donor through their tax forms.

It added a new question to Michigan’s state income tax form: Do you want to join the organ and tissue donor registry? Organizations behind the effort are celebrating after more than 12,000 Michiganders who weren’t previously registered said yes.

According to Gift of Life Michigan, it all started as a “What if?” when a lab manager suggested it to the Vice President of Communications and the Michigan Department of Treasury embraced the idea.

The bipartisan legislation quickly passed and Michigan taxpayers welcomed the opportunity this spring.

“This was an exciting opportunity for the Michigan Department of Treasury to get involved with this legislation. It’s not often that we can make a life or death impact, especially in the tax realm,” said Sarah Rusnell, with the Michigan Department of Treasury. “12,475 people registering newly registering with the donor registry for the first time is so exciting. I don’t know that we necessarily had a sense of how popular this was going to be.”

With more than 100,000 people on the national organ transplant waiting list, there is a need for organ donors.

Creating new ways to join is critical, as people are making fewer visits to Secretary of State offices.

“It’s still the primary way that people get in the Michigan donor registry is when they get their driver’s license, either for the first time or renewed,” said Gift of Life Michigan President and CEO Dorrie Dils. “That’s how most people are asked the question, ‘Do you want to be in the registry?’ and because of those recent changes, the fact that we’re not going as frequently the registry has been growing at the slowest rate ever.”

“It was actually really easy,” recalled Ron Liex. “It was like check the box, move on, and then it automatically went through the process.”

Liex joined the registry on his tax return after someone he knows recently received a kidney transplant.

“It was one of those things that happened around you that makes you think if something were to happen to me, you would want someone to benefit like that individual did,” Liex said. “And that’s what really gave me a pause and just said ‘This is just something I got to do.’”

According to Gift of Life Michigan, someone registered to be an organ donor can save up to eight lives and potentially heal more than 100.

You don’t have to wait until you do your taxes to sign up.

Read: How do I sign up to become an organ and tissue donor?

People can register to donate organs, tissue and eyes at the end of their life to someone in need of a transplant. They can also explore a “living donation” — or giving a kidney or part of their liver to someone in need while both individuals are living.

Michiganders can enroll using the Online Michigan Organ Donor Registry or sign up for organ donation when renewing or requesting a replacement license or state ID card.

Gift of Life Michigan, an organization that facilitates organ and tissue donations, works with the Michigan Secretary of State to grow and maintain the registry, you can click here to learn more and to sign up to become a donor.

Copyright 2024 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit – All rights reserved.

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