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Gold Medal Partners for Life

By: Marilyn Pongonis, director of communications

Donate Life Ohio recognizes that continuing to grow an effective Ohio Donor Registry can’t happen without the support of two key partners in state government — the Ohio Department of Public Safety and the Ohio Department of Health.

Recently 10 states, including Ohio, were awarded Gold Medals of Honor at the National Learning Congress for the Donation and Transplantation Community of Practice for their achievements in increasing the number of registered organ, eye and tissue donors who save and heal lives.

The states were recognized for their high performing donor registries based on results in five key categories including: a 50 percent or greater Donor Designation rate (the rate at which individuals join the registry expressed as a percentage of licensed drivers of ID card holders); 50 percent or more of all state residents age 18 and older registered as donors; and 40 percent or more each in organ, eye and tissue donors who are registered at their time of death. Gold medals reflect achievement in all five areas. Ohio was the only state east of the Mississippi River to receive a gold medal. Other states included Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. This is only the second time these prestigious medals have been presented. Ohio also received gold medal of honor recognition at the inaugural awards in 2010.

Last week I was proud to accompany some of my Donate Life Ohio colleagues in presenting the gold medal to these supportive agencies. The Ohio Donor Registry currently contains the names of more than 5.2 million Ohioans who have made the commitment to become organ, eye and tissue donors at the time of their death. Giving hope to the 3,400 Ohioans awaiting life-saving organ transplants, Ohio’s registry is generated and maintained through the efforts of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles and all the state’s deputy registrars. They are on the front lines of donation asking the important question: Do you want to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor?

(L to R) Kent Holloway, Lifeline of Ohio; Marilyn Pongonis, Lifeline of Ohio; Barry Massa, Life Center; Andrea O’Malley, Life Center; Mike Rankin, Bureau of Motor Vehicles Registrar; Thomas Charles, ODPS director;  Gordon Bowen, LifeBanc.

Likewise, our partners at the Ohio Department of Health are committed to ensuring that Ohioans have access to information about the Ohio Donor Registry and the donation process in order to make an informed donation decision. Through voluntary donations made to the Second Chance Trust Fund, the Ohio Department of Health funds education programs and promotions to reach people of all ages throughout the state.

(L to R) Barry Massa, LifeCenter; Andrea O’Malley, Life Center; Dr. Ted Wymyslo, director Ohio Department of Health; Marilyn Pongonis, Lifeline of Ohio; Debra Smith, Second Chance Trust Fund; Kent Holloway, Lifeline of Ohio

While the state’s organ, eye and tissue recovery agencies work diligently to facilitate the donation of precious gifts of life –we cannot do it alone! We are grateful to have Gold Medal partners working beside us everyday to save and heal lives.

We are also thankful that thousands of Ohioans continue to add their names to the Ohio Donor Registry each month. After all the data is calculated and all the process are in place, donation is still an individual act that allows the precious gift of life to be passed from one generous person to another in need. We hope you register as an organ, eye and tissue donor today by clicking here.

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