Kelly's Law in Action
Every Wisconsin teenager who takes a driver’s education course learns about the importance of organ, tissue and eye donation before the course is over. That may seem intuitive to Wisconsinites now, but 16 years ago, it was a novel idea. That’s when then-Governor Tommy Thompson signed the Kelly Nachreiner Bill into law, making it mandatory for driver’s education programs to provide at least 30 minutes of such education.
Kelly was 16 when she died after a car accident in 2000. When asked whether she wanted to donate her daughter’s organs, her mother, Mary Nachreiner, remembered Kelly had expressed interest when she first received her license.
“When the DMV staff member asked Kelly if she wanted to be a donor, she looked at me and in her very sweet, kind manner she said, ‘Of course, Mom, why wouldn’t I?’ says Mary, now a community development specialist at UW Organ and Tissue Donation (UW OTD). “It was a very proud parental moment for which our family will be forever grateful.” The Nachreiner family and others lobbied state lawmakers to include organ donation education as part of the driver’s education curriculum, and that effort bore fruit with “Kelly’s Law.”
Now, UW OTD provides a toolkit for driver’s education instructors across the state to aid them in complying with the law. Included in the toolkit is a Powerpoint presentation and DVD they can use during class time, as well as other educational materials. The UW OTD website offers a taped volunteer delivering the presentation, so instructors can just play the video online if they choose. Volunteer speakers also are available upon request to visit individual classes and speak about organ donation.
”It’s hard to believe it has been 16 years,” says Mary. “That one kind decision Kelly made that day in the DMV not only saved the lives of three strangers through transplantation, but left a legacy in educating thousands about organ, tissue and eye donation in driver’s education classes. We encourage students not only to make their decision about donation, but to take the message home. They can encourage family members to register at donatelifewisconsin.org, giving hope to the thousands waiting for that lifesaving gift.”