Idahoans saved more lives in 2016

BOISE – Idahoans are typically a kind and giving people. That was reinforced in 2016, as a record number of Idaho citizens chose to save a life.

The simple act of choosing organ donation on their driver’s license or state ID card translated into a significant increase in the number of organs transplanted last year, to 169, up from 113 in 2015. Customers at any county DMV site can select organ donation when completing a driver’s license or ID card transaction, and those accessing the DMV’s online site can choose the yesidaho! website to designate organ donation.

More Idahoans — 64 percent — choose to be organ donors than the national average, which is just 51 percent. There are about 800 people on the waiting list for organ donations in Idaho. There are no transplant centers in the Gem State, so recipients go to Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City, or Denver for transplants.

Intermountain Donor Services and the Idaho Transportation Department held a press conference Wednesday (Feb. 8) at 10:30 a.m. to discuss what the increase means to those personally affected.

“When we break a record, we typically use numbers to show results. When talking about organ and tissue donation, however, numbers do not paint the whole picture,” said Alex McDonald, public education director at Intermountain Donor Services. “Each organ transplanted means someone has been given a second chance — an opportunity to spend more time with family and friends, to continue working, and to make a difference.”

“Each organ and tissue donor will be deeply missed by family and friends, but is a hero in the lives of those they saved. We have invited a few people to share their stories and provide a broader understanding of what these record-breaking numbers really mean,” he added.

Those sharing their personal stories were:

– Rick Brittell, a heart transplant recipient who recently met his donor family
– Terri Magnuson, a cornea transplant recipient and donor mom
– Jonathan Long, liver transplant recipient
– Stacy McGrew, donor mom
– Dr. Mike Malea, a nephrologist working with patients with kidney disease
– Ed Pemble, DMV Program Manager, ITD

Many people contribute to the success of the organ, eye and tissue donation program in Idaho. First, of course, are the individuals and families who said yes to donation. The employees of the Idaho Transportation Department also make a huge difference in saving lives, providing educational materials and contact information to Idahoans with questions about donation.

For more information or to sign up on the Idaho Donor Registry, log on to