Wisconsin Donor Registry: One Year of Saving Lives

Yes I Will Wisconsin: Wisconsin Donor RegistryMADISON - More than 650,000 people have registered to become organ donors since the Wisconsin Donor Registry was established on March 29, 2010. Of these, 24,000 have registered online, and more than 640,000 have registered at the Department of Motor Vehicles, which now links directly to the registry. Organ transplantation saved nearly 600 Wisconsin lives in 2010.

"But there is still more work to be done," said Dr. Tony D'Alessandro, medical director of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Organ Procurement Organization (OPO). "In 2010, the UW OPO served 113 donors, but only 43 of them had an orange dot on their license or were listed on the donor registry. The other 70 neither had the dot nor were registered, leaving the decision up to their families during their time of grief."

Martha Mallon, director of the organ and tissue donation program at the Division of Public Health, agrees.

"We are thrilled with the fact that many people have taken the time to register online or through the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Families can now find out the donation decision of their loved one at the time of death - and this single piece of information is helping save more lives through donation, transplantation, education and research."


More than 1,700 people in Wisconsin are awaiting a life saving transplant.

The registry allows residents age 15-½ or older to legally authorize donation of their organs, tissues and eyes. In the past, an orange dot on a driver's license was not legal authorization to donate. The final decision was left to the family of the deceased.

This knowledge was helpful to the Schambow family of Rewey, Wisconsin, during a very difficult time. Their son Roy died unexpectedly in a car accident in November at the age of 22. Because Roy had registered, the family knew he wanted to be an organ donor and had made the legal authorization himself.


His father, Roger Schambow, says, "Roy was a good kid who always thought of others. And when there was nothing we could do for Roy, we knew we could at least do something to help someone else."


Roy gave the gift of life to three recipients by donating his kidneys and his liver. His pancreas was donated to medical research.

To register as an organ donor, visit the Donate Life Wisconsin/Donor Registry It's important to note that even if you have the orange dot on your driver's license, if you haven't said "yes" to organ donation at the DMV since March 29, 2010, or haven't registered online, you need to go to the donor registry to legally authorize your decision.


April is Donate Life Month


Did you know ...

  • Every 11 minutes a new name is added to the national transplant waiting list.
  • Only 2 to 3 percent of people pass away in a manner that allows for organ donation, making it imperative that everyone who is eligible to donate actually does.
  • Almost 8,000 families in the nation donated their loved one's organs in 2010.
  • More than 1,700 people in Wisconsin are waiting for a transplant, and 35 of them are children.
  • Each organ donor can save or improve eight lives.
  • Organs that can be donated include the kidneys, liver, pancreas, heart, lung, and intestine.
  • Hundreds are waiting for a cornea transplant to restore their sight. Thousands more wait for the chance to live without pain through a bone or soft tissue transplant.
  • The UW Health Transplant Program has transplanted more than 12,600 organs for more than 11,000 patients, including more than 8,200 kidneys.

Date Published: 03/24/2011

News tag(s):  transplant

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