Drivers renewing their licenses in Ohio will no longer be asked if they want to remain on the list of organ donors in a move designed to increase the state’s donation registry.
Donors still can take themselves off the list by requesting a change when they renew their licenses or by visiting the Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ website.
The change comes after a state lawmaker added an amendment to the state budget signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich.
Rep. Cheryl Grossman, a Republican from Grove City, said the goal was to cut time at the BMV counter and add to the donor registry.
About 5.24 million Ohioans are registered organ donors, up from 5.19 million last year. Ohio joins nine other states that don’t ask registered donors about continuing.
Lifeline of Ohio, which maintains Ohio’s organ donor registry, pushed for the policy switch because it wanted people to gather more information first, said Marilyn Pongonis, a spokeswoman for the organization.
Older donors have dropped off the list because they wrongly believed medical conditions or illnesses would disqualify them from donating, she said.
“Our real hope is that people won’t pull themselves out without making an informed decision,” Pongonis told The Columbus Dispatch. Over the last year, 233,103 names were added to the registry and 69,302 were removed, she said.
Across the nation, about 120,000 people are waiting for organ transplants, said Pongonis, who added that state registries must increase to meet the demand for organs.
Close to 59 percent of Ohio adults are registered donors. Only California has more names on its registry, but the proportion of registered donors is higher in 17 states, according to a report from Donate Life America.
Last year, 297 Ohioans donated their organs.
“People are always shocked by that number, that there’s such a small number of people who go on to be organ donors,” Pongonis said.