2015 Transplant and Organ Donation Calendar: DMV Partnership

Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles and UW Organ and Tissue DonationStatistics show that 98 percent of people legally register their donation decision at their local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). When someone says yes to donation at the DMV, they give legal authorization to become an organ, tissue and eye donor. Patrick Fernan, Wisconsin DMV Administrator, and his staff take this role seriously.


"Everything we do at the DMV is geared toward saving lives, from testing new drivers to helping drivers with medical issues," says Fernan. "Reminding people to indicate their donation decision is truly an extension of our mission and we are very proud of the partnership we have with the donation and transplant community."


The DMV has strived to create a streamlined procedure so that when a customer does not check the organ donation box on their I.D. or license, the staff can take a little bit of time to explain it to them. "Our goal is to help a customer get the products and services they need as quickly as possible," says Fernan. "When needed we take a little bit of time to balance this "need for speed" with our role to promote organ donation."

Mary Nachreiner, UW Organ and Tissue Donation Community Development Specialist


Mary Nachreiner, UW Organ and Tissue Donation Community Development Specialist, and a team from Donate Life Wisconsin, work with Fernan's team to support their efforts to aid DMV customers during this crucial decision making opportunity. This partnership helps connect DMV staff with donor families and transplant recipients so they can see the impact of their work. Mary and her team have visited almost all of the DMVs across the state – more than 80 – to get of sense of what they and their customers need. "The DMV offices have a tremendous impact on the lives of people on the transplant wait list, as well as donor families," says Mary.


Mary knows their impact personally. Her 16-year-old daughter, Kelly, became an organ donor after a car accident took her life in 2000. "I was with Kelly when she made that decision at the DMV just four weeks before her accident," says Mary, "It was an incredibly proud moment – here she was willing to give unconditionally, to anyone in need. I am so thankful that we knew her wishes and were able to honor her decision."


That's why Mary continues to work tirelessly on programs like the one at the DMV. This life-saving collaborative also includes people like Tracy Howard, DMV Southwest Region Manager, and hundreds of DMV customer service representatives like Mee Lor, pictured here helping a new driver, Alex, complete his paperwork. "We all play a role in saving lives," says Mary. "We just don't always know right away what that role is." She adds, "It is my privilege to work with the DMV offices and I do it as a thank you and a way to pay it forward. Had I not discussed this decision with Kelly at the DMV, we would not have known her decision to become a donor."


Kelly's decision directly saved three people's lives, but the effects of her gift continue to live on in many ways. On May 9, 2000, the Kelly Nachreiner Bill became law, and organ and tissue donation education became mandatory in driver's education classes across the state. Kelly's law led to the largest-ever increase in organ-donation signups. To date, organ donation registry rates among 15½- to 18 year-olds is higher than any other age group, and continues to grow.