Jesse White • Illinois Secretary of State

A Message from Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White

It has been an honor and privilege to celebrate National Donate Life Month for the last 24 years as Illinois Secretary of State.

The Organ and Tissue Donor Program has been a priority in my administration as well as a personal mission. My family experienced the miracle of donation when my sister received a kidney from a generous donor before I was Secretary of State. Since being elected as your Secretary of State, my goal has been to do something good for someone every day.

When I became Secretary of State in 1999, there were approximately 4 million people registered with the Secretary of State’s Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, now we have more than 7.3 million registered Illinoisans. In 2005, I initiated legislation to create a “First Person Consent Organ/Tissue Donor” Registry that allowed people over the age of 18 to register as donors without family consent, and on Jan. 1, 2018, we established a new law allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to join the registry. To date, we have registered more than 223,000 16- and 17-year-olds.

What better way to serve others than to donate lifesaving organs and tissue to give those in need a second chance at life or better quality of life. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Secretary of State and to make a difference in our efforts to save lives through organ and tissue donation.


April is National Donate Life Month

National Donate Life Month is a celebration of the lifesaving gift of an organ or tissue transplant. Each April, we encourage individuals to learn about organ/tissue donation so they can make an informed and educated decision about signing up for the registry. Joining the Illinois Donor Registry only takes 30 seconds and can help change the lives of up to 25 people.

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A Tribute to Secretary of State Jesse White


Gift of Hope: Secretary White’s extraordinary dedication over the years to educating the public about organ, eye and tissue donation and encouraging people to register their decision to be lifesaving donors will serve as one of his many legacies. Thousands of people are alive today because of his commitment. His pioneering leadership has served as a model across the nation. Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network thanks you for your many years of devoted service to the people of Illinois.
Mid America Transplant: For almost thirty years, Mid-America Transplant has partnered with Secretary of State Jesse White and his office. During this time, Secretary White has been unwavering in his dedication to educate the public on the impact of organ, tissue and eye donation. Under Secretary White’s guidance, the state of Illinois has seen a steady increase in the number of individuals joining the Illinois Donor Registry at www.LifeGoesOn.com. Secretary White grew up downstate, and as the organ procurement organization that serves this part of Illinois, we will remain forever grateful for his service. We wish the Secretary a hearty congratulations on his retirement.
National Kidney Foundation of Illinois: The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois (NKFI) is so grateful to Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White for his dedication to organ donation advocacy and awareness. For over two decades, his tireless commitment has changed the lives of thousands of Illinois residents waiting for their lifesaving transplants. NKFI has valued our partnership with Secretary White and acknowledged his unwavering commitment to organ and tissue donation as our 2005 NKFI Gift of Life Gala Honoree. Nearly 20 years later, we continue to applaud his passion and thank him for making a difference.
Eversight: Eversight honors Jesse White for his decades-long career in service to the people of Illinois as Secretary of State. Secretary White has relentlessly educated Illinoisans about the critical importance of eye, organ and tissue donation since taking office in 1999, leading the charge to increase the Illinois donor registry and setting an example for states nationwide. Eversight is proud to partner with the Illinois Secretary of State office and will continue Secretary White’s legacy of transforming lives and restoring sight for many years to come. Thank you for changing lives, Secretary White.

Three Types of Donation


In addition to organ/tissue donation that occurs after a person is deceased, there is also living donation, in which an individual can donate a whole or partial organ to someone in need while alive. The third type of donation is donating the body to science or whole-body donation after death. All three types of donation are described in detail below with links provided for additional information.

Disclaimer: Living and whole-body donation are NOT options on the Illinois Secretary of State’s Organ/Tissue Donor Registry. The Illinois Secretary of State’s office is simply providing information for individuals interested in the different types of donation available to them.

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Organ/Tissue Donation

The mission of the Secretary of State’s Organ/Tissue Donor Program is to strengthen Illinois’ Organ/Tissue Donor Registry through outreach and registration initiatives. The office maintains the Illinois Donor Registry, the database of Illinoisans who have said ‘yes’ to donation, which now has more than 7.3 million registrants. The larger the donor pool, the greater the chance of a successful match for those waiting to receive a transplant. Organ and tissue donors save lives, restore sight and improve the quality of life for recipients across Illinois every day. In Illinois, 4,000 people wait for transplants of all kinds – kidney, liver, heart, lungs, small intestines and pancreas. These six organs can save the lives of as many as eight individuals. Donated tissues such as corneas, bones, ligaments, skin and veins can vastly improve life for others. Every 10 minutes another name is added to the national transplant waiting list, and sadly 22 people die each day when organs they need are not available. Many transplant recipients live long and healthy lives post-transplant.

Read more about FAQs/Myths and Misconceptions.

Register your donor decision at the Illinois Donor Registry (must be at least 16 years-old) and share your decision with family and friends. Ask friends if they are registered and discuss the facts about donation with them. Do not believe the many myths and misconceptions about donation. It takes just 30 seconds to register your donor decision.

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Living Donation

Living Donation is when an individual donates a whole or partial organ to another person. The most common living donation is a kidney, followed by a partial liver donation. Anyone considering becoming a living donor should discuss it with their doctor at a transplant center. For more information on living donation, contact:

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Whole Body Donation

The third donation option is donating the body to science, also called whole-body or willed- body donation. In Illinois, whole-body donation is regulated by the Anatomical Gift Association (AGA), located in Chicago.

Disclaimer: Living donation and whole body donation are NOT options on the Illinois Secretary of State's Organ/Tissue Donor Registry. The Illinois Secretary of State's office is NOT recommending any of the above organizations, but simply providing information for individuals interested in the different types of donation available to them.

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