NATIONAL DONATE LIFE MONTH KICKS OFF AT DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY HQ
DPS impact on organ, eye and tissue donation recognized by MORA and MLEB
Jackson, MS – The Mississippi Department of Public Safety (DPS), Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency (MORA), and Mississippi Lion’s Eye Bank (MLEB) held a joint press conference at DPS Headquarters today to kick off National Donate Life Month and recognize the significant role that DPS plays in saving and improving lives through organ, eye and tissue donation in Mississippi and the United States.
Warren Strain, Public Affairs Director for DPS, addresses the crowd at today's National Donate Life Month Kickoff Press Conference at DPS HQ in Jackson.
The DPS has collected nearly 98% of the over 700,000 donor designations currently in the Mississippi Donor Registry. Since 2008, when the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) was passed by the Mississippi Legislature to allow for first person consent of organ, eye and tissue donation, over 98% of the 460 registered donors confirmed their intentions to be donors while obtaining a new, or renewing a Mississippi driver’s license or ID.
“The Department of Public Safety is integral to the success of donation and transplantation in this state,” said Kevin Stump, the Chief Executive Officer of MORA. Mike Flynt, the Executive Director of Mississippi Lions Eye Bank said that the work done by DPS and the opening of the Donor Registry have had a powerful impact in the state. “In the field of organ and tissue donation in the state of Mississippi, the Department of Public Safety and the Mississippi Donor Registry have been game changers," said Flynt.
Also since 2008, 19% of Mississippi organ, eye and tissue donors were on the Donor Registry. Over the past two years, DPS has accounted for an average of 5,100 new donor designations per month. Commissioner of Public Safety Albert Santa Cruz said that his DPS team is about saving lives through their various programs but today’s message was about what the people can do. “I think with messages like this today we will see those numbers improve,” he said referring to the number of Mississippians that register to be organ, eye and tissue donors monthly through DPS services.
Also speaking today was transplant recipient Barney McKee of Brandon. “I am one of those lives that was saved by a donor. I have been given an extra stretch of life that I try to be worthy of,” said McKee, who just celebrated the fifth year anniversary of his heart transplant in early March.
Since 2003, April has been recognized as National Donate Life Month to promote awareness for the need for organ, eye and tissue donation. At present, more than 1,400 Mississippians and 124,000+ Americans are in need of a lifesaving transplant. A new patient is added to the national transplant waiting list every 10 minutes and an average of 21 people die each day awaiting a lifesaving transplant that never comes. One organ donor can save eight lives and one tissue donor can save or improve the lives of 50 recipients or more.
Chuck Stinson, Director of Community Services & Relations