Organ donors must be on right registry

July 26, 2011 

  • Read David Lauderdale's musings, see his morning photos and get alerts about his latest columns by following That's Lauderdale on Twitter.

Blissful ignorance won't help the 1,000 South Carolinians waiting to receive an organ transplant.

While doing research for a column last week, I discovered I've been blissfully ignorant for more than two years about my wish to be an organ donor.

I was blissful because I thought the red heart with a "Y" in it on my South Carolina driver's license would ensure that my organs would go to anyone who could use them when I die.

I was ignorant because I did not realize everything changed in December 2008.

Since then, a different symbol goes on the driver's licenses of registered organ donors.

It represents participation in a new organ-donor registry that was created in South Carolina. To my surprise, I was not on the registry until I took a few minutes to sign up this week at

When I renew my driver's license, I will tell the DMV "yes" when asked if I want to be an organ donor. And my new license will have the new symbol, a heart with a circle around it.

But I did not have to wait for that; I registered this week. If you haven't signed up at the DMV since January 2009, chances are you aren't on the official South Carolina Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, either. It can be done at the Donate Life South Carolina website or by calling 877-277-4866.

The old system did not provide a list of names or any database to hospitals or an organ procurement agency. It was called an "intent-only" symbol for a driver's license. The final consent still came from the next of kin.

South Carolina has now moved to a "first-person consent registry," like most of the nation. The registry is a secure database linked to those who need the information. And today's registry gives the donor the final legal decision on donation of organs, eyes and tissue, and the next of kin will not have to worry about it.

Under the former system, 1.1 million people told the DMV they wanted to be organ donors. The Donate Life South Carolina organization, designated by the state to handle the organ-donor registry and encourage participation, had to start the new registry at zero. It's now up to 728,000 donors.

They want to get back to 1.1 million. And because every 11 minutes, a new name appears on the nation's organ transplant waiting list, they want to reach the goal by 11 a.m. on 11/11/11.

You can help -- and perhaps save as many as eight lives with your organ donations -- but only if your name is in the right place. It doesn't help to be blissfully ignorant.

Follow columnist David Lauderdale at

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