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Annual Events

National Donate Life Month
April is National Donate Life Month, a time when communities across the country bring attention to the critical shortage of organs and tissue for patients through various activities and events, and encourage individuals to become organ/tissue donors. Ceremonies are held to honor those who have donated and saved lives, to mourn those who have died while waiting for a transplant, to provide support for patients whose lives depend on finding a donor, and to celebrate the lives saved and improved due to donation.

National Minority Donor Awareness Week
National Minority Donor Awareness Week is celebrated the first week in August to educate people about the need for minority donors and the facts surrounding organ, blood and tissue donation. The week also promotes healthy living and disease prevention.

Of the more than 116,000 people on the transplant waiting list, more than half are minorities. African-Americans make up the largest portion of minorities on the waiting list at 35 percent, followed by Hispanics, Asian-Americans, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders. Most people on the waiting list are awaiting kidney transplants. Twenty percent of the United States population are minorities and 34 percent are donors. However, minorities make up 40 percent of the patients who receive transplants. Best matches and outcomes for kidney transplants occur when the donor and patient are from the same racial/ethnic background. Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Awareness, 2011

National Donor Sabbath
Every year two weekends before Thanksgiving in November, the Secretary of State’s office joins clergy and health-care professionals across the country in celebrating National Donor Sabbath, an annual donor awareness observance in faith communities. This is an opportunity to dispel myths surrounding donation, and to inform congregants that most religions support organ/tissue donation as an act of charity.
National Donor Sabbath Month Letter  • Listen to the National Organ Donor Sabbath Public Service Announcement  • Religious Views

Clergy encouraged to speak to worshipers about donation the second weekend in November is celebrated as National Donor Sabbath. Clergy are encouraged to talk to their worshipers about the benefits of donation and invite donor families and recipients to share their transplant stories with fellow members. "During National Donor Sabbath, we share positive stories about transplantation with the religious community, especially letting individuals know that all major eastern and western religions embrace donation," said Secretary of State Jesse White. "That is one of the many misconceptions existing about donation, that religious views prevent donation. It's simply not true." If you have a place of worship, please consider spreading this important message in November. For more information, please contact the Secretary of State's office at 800-210-2106.

Be a Hero Campaign
The Organ/Tissue Donor Program is teaming up with community colleges statewide for the ultimate public awareness campaign. This awareness campaign offers the opportunity for community college campuses across the state to involve students in promoting awareness and registration in the Illinois Organ/Tissue Donor Registry. More information on Be A Hero coming soon!

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History of the Program

1991
The Secretary of State Organ/Tissue Donor Program develops a poster contest for students in kindergarten through 12th grade to promote organ/tissue donation. One winning poster is duplicated and distributed statewide to Driver Services facilities, libraries, schools, hospitals, procurement agencies and other organizations.

1992
The Secretary of State’s office announces implementation of the Illinois Organ/Tissue Donor Registry, making Illinois one of only three states in the country to maintain such a listing. The registry utilizes the Secretary of State’s driver’s license database and is created at no cost to taxpayers. When a person enters a Driver Services facility, he/she is provided with information about organ/tissue donation and asked if he/she wishes to join the registry. An entry is made in the database indicating the response. Currently, more than 5 million people are listed in the registry as potential donors.

1993
The Illinois General Assembly passes legislation to provide funding for organ/tissue donor education and awareness.

1994
“Life Goes On,” a statewide public awareness campaign, begins in April with a two-day conference to address concerns about the shortage of donors.

Information about organ/tissue donation is included in all driver’s license renewal notices and made available at all Driver Services facilities.

Driver Services facilities employees are encouraged to promote organ/tissue donation to customers. Posters, brochures and other materials are in place at all facilities, including Spanish language versions where appropriate.

Driver education classes and health classes are targeted to inform students about organ/tissue donation. Video, brochures and speakers are available to schools.

1999
The first Life Goes On Committee was started in Peoria. It began as a pilot project and has turned into a robust and integral part of the Organ/Tissue Donor Program. It has now been expanded to the following cities: Bloomington, Carbondale, McCane & Macon Counties, Springfield, Quincy & Rockford, & Chicago.

2004
Secretary of State Jesse White forms a task force to look at all aspects of first-person consent, which would eliminate the need for family consent for donation to occur, and how it would benefit Illinois.

2005
A legislative measure led by Secretary of State Jesse White creating the first-person consent registry is passed by the General Assembly in June.

2006
The First-Person Consent Organ/Tissue Donor Registry goes into effect January 1, making an individual's consent to be a donor a legal and binding contract, and eliminates the need for family consent for those age 18 and older.

2012
Illinois’ Organ/Tissue Donor Registry reaches 5 million donors.

Other milestones
The Secretary of State’s Organ/Tissue Donor program was instrumental in helping to develop the National Coalition on Donation — now Donate Life America — through its efforts with renowned transplant surgeon, Dr. James Wolf.

The Organ/Tissue Donor Program was one of the founding members of the Illinois Coalition on Donation — now Donate Life Illinois.

The Secretary of State’s Organ/Tissue Donor Program has won numerous American Association of Motor Vehicles Association (AAMVA) Pace Awards for commercials, posters, brochures, newsletters and other items produced to promote organ/tissue donation.

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Request Materials or Speakers

The Secretary of State’s Organ/Tissue Donor program has made it a priority to educate the public about organ/tissue donation. While our state continues to be the leader in registering potential donors, there are still 5,000 people on the waiting list, and 300 people die each year because of organ shortages.

The Secretary of State's Organ/Tissue Donor Program has developed a comprehensive list of materials to assist you in your efforts to help raise awareness about organ/tissue donation. All materials are free and may be duplicated as needed. These requests are for Illinois residents only. However if you have a legitimate out-of-state request, please contact the organ/tissue donor program.

To request materials, please call 800-210-2106 or write to:
Organ/Tissue Donor Program Michael J. Howlett Bldg. 501 S. Second St., Rm. 451 Springfield, IL 62756-9000.

Available Materials

Request a Speaker
Illinois residents age 18 and over are invited to join the Illinois Organ/Tissue Donor Registry by visiting LifeGoesOn.com, calling 800-210-2106, completing and mailing a registration card, or visiting a Driver Services facility. If you registered before January 2006, you must re-register to ensure that your wishes to be a donor are honored. The Secretary of State's office provides information about organ donation, the critical shortage of donated organs and how to become a potential organ donor. To schedule a donor program staff to speak to your group, event, class etc., please call our hotline at 800-210-2106 or contact us directly at 217-782-6258.

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