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Ky. licenses carry new marks for state's organ donors

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By Brandon Mattingly

Kentucky residents have seen several changes to their driver’s license over the last year, and now there’s one final tweak and state officials are excited about it.
Until now, anyone wanting to register as an organ donor needed to sign the back of their license and add an orange sticker to their card, but that will no longer be the case with the introduction of a new, permanent decal. Starting on Tuesday of this week, registered organ donors will have the option of adding a blue heart with the words “organ donor” to their license, located just to the right of their photo.
The symbol, which was created by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in collaboration with the Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks and the Trust for Life, will be along the lines of the “veteran” denotation that was added to the ID cards of honorably discharged military personnel last year. Other changes occurring in recent months include improved security and the ghost image feature, which reduced the chances of fraud. The organ donor icon is the final piece in Kentucky’s ID card overhaul.
Washington County Circuit Clerk JoAnne Mudd-Miller emphasized that signing the back of the license and adding an orange sticker will no longer be necessary with the new setup. Signatures, which often wiped away and stickers that would fall off over time are giving way to the permanent symbol. Officials hope the change leads to a spike in registered organ donors in the state.
“This is an important advancement in Kentucky,” said Shelley Snyder, Executive Director of the Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust for Life, in a recent press release. “The organ donor heart will emphasize that it’s not about signing the back of your license anymore. It’s about saying ‘yes’ and joining the Kentucky organ Donor Registry.”
Snyder also stated that 18 patients die each day waiting for transplants and that a new name is added to a wait-list every 10 minutes.
Currently, 1.27 million Kentuckians are registered donors, but that is just 35 percent of the population, compared to 60 percent in Indiana and Ohio. The Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks are hoping the Commonwealth approaches those numbers in the near future, as both of those states have adopted similar symbols in the past and only about one percent of people die in a way that allows them to be a donor.
Mudd-Miller said the number of registered donors needs to rise because so many patients are counting on help.
“Because every registered donor gives hope to more than 116,000 patients and their families waiting for life-saving organ transplants, I think it’s very important,” she said. “Every heart that’s printed on a license is another person saying that if something happens, they want their families to know that they want to be an organ donor.”
Registration is confidential and all Kentucky residents can join the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry at their Circuit Court Clerk’s office or online at www.donatelifeky.org.