For Dear Life
New registry will help save lives
In June 2005, the Legislature made it easier for Texans to make their wishes known by passing House Bill 120, the Donor Education, Awareness and Registry, or DEAR, law, which creates a statewide organ donor registry and a public awareness program.
The online registry will be linked to the state's driver's license and car registration systems, allowing people to indicate their donor intent when they renew their driver's licenses or car registrations.
States with organ donation registries not tied to motor vehicles departments report fewer than 5 percent of residents sign up, compared with states that enable registration through motor vehicles departments, where about 70 percent of residents register, according to David Heneghan of the California Transplant Donor Network.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will collect a $1 voluntary fee to pay for the program and will distribute educational materials. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will oversee the registry and education program.
An 11-member group called the Texas Organ, Tissue and Eye Donor Council will help state agencies develop the program and materials. The council will include two public members who are either donors, recipients or members of donor families; a representative from each of the state's three OPOs; a representative from DSHS, the Texas Department of Public Safety and TxDOT; and two transplant professionals--a transplant physician or nurse and a representative of an acute care hospital.