Kentucky’s Real ID changes could cut organ donor registrations in half

KY Real ID changes could cut organ donor registrations

KENTUCKY (WFIE) - Officials with the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates are concerned that a longer period between renewing a driver’s license could cut the number of organ donor registrations in half.

Once Kentucky completes its roll out of the new government issued Real ID drivers licenses, the time between renewing your license will jump from four years to eight years.

From a convenience point of view, this sounds great, but officials say that gives them less opportunities to ask drivers if they would like to become organ donors.

Those officials say the less drivers that hear the question, the less donors are going to register.

“About 7 to 10,000 people register every single month through their circuit clerks office and so we expect that number to be cut in half just as the audience, the number of people asked are going to be cut in half," said Shelley Snyder, the Executive Director of Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks Trust for Life. “We already see this happen where there happens to be a month where less people get their drivers license, well less people are joining the registry, so we already know that that happens.”

Snyder says that most people don’t think about becoming an organ donor until they are faced with the question. In fact, Snyder says 99% of the people who register as donors do so while they are renewing their licenses.

That’s where the local circuit court clerks, like Herb McKee, come into play. They are charged with asking the question and presenting an opportunity to sign up.

“We see people from the time that they first get their license through people who are 50-60 years old who are registering to be organ donors," said McKee. "We’re seeing people all across the board increase their knowledge as time goes on.”

Now, that exposure to the question is being cut in half, the circuit court clerks are turning to the state government to fill in the gaps by placing an option to become an organ donor on a government “hub site” called Kentucky Online Gateway.

The website serves as a “hub” for users to access different government sites with a single log in.

Snyder says that if the option to become a donor is put on that site, then it could help curb the lack of people coming into the circuit court clerks office.

“Kentucky is one of the fastest growing registries in the nation, and that’s what we’re excited about this bill. To continue that growth instead of seeing that drastic decrease due to the process of Real ID,” said Snyder.

McKee says the more options for exposure means a greater impact on the local community.

“There are actually organ donor recipients here, not just donors. We’ve had several people reach out to us with their personal stories where it’s saved their lives,” said McKee.

According to McKee the new Real ID licenses will begin rolling out to the public on April 14.

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