GENESEE COUNTY — As an organ donor recipient, Sen. John Gleason (DFlushing) is well aware of the need for educating the public about the Michigan anatomical gift donor registry program.
Gleason, the recipient of a kidney transplant in 2001, has long been a promoter of organ and tissue donation. He received a kidney from his sister, Rita, but said there are still some 5,000 people on the organ donation registry.
“I received a transplant myself 11 years ago,” he said. “For the last 10 years I’ve written a law to make license plates for fundraising education. The Secretary of State is going to make them starting July — like the U of M and MSU plates.”
Gleason said the cost of the plates will go toward educating the public about organ donation. Previously, Gleason wrote a bill for first person consent — which means a family can’t supercede a loved one’s decision to donate his or her organs once they turn 18.
Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer (East Lansing) offered an amendment to have the act named as the John J. Gleason Gift of Life Plate.
“For the decade since his transplant, John has been an outspoken supporter for organ donation awareness,” said Whitmer. “He has impacted thousands of lives through his work to signify organ donation on driver’s licenses and include organ donation to the driver’s education curriculum.”
Billboards have been going up on major expressways like I-69 and I-75 informing the public about donor registry awareness and seeking monetary donations through the group’s 501c.
“We are extremely grateful for the outdoor advertising industry,” said Gleason. “They have sacrificed to make this possible, and we couldn’t do this without their generosity.”
According to the Mayo Clinic one donor can save or improve the lives of as many as 50 people. Michigan currently allows citizens to designate their desire to be an organ donor through the Secretary of State’s office. Potential donors receive a sticker to place on their driver’s license to indicate their wishes.
Those who would like to learn more can visit www.giftoflifemichigan.org.