Author Archives: Daryl Thornton

National Donate Life Month: How a Video Can Increase the Number of Organ Donors

Apr 20, 2012, 1:00 PM, Posted by Daryl Thornton


Imagine you’re at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), waiting to get your driver’s license. As you wait, you watch a five-minute video on an iPod. In it, a daughter describes how excited she is that her father, whose life was saved by a heart transplant, will be able to attend her high school graduation. Another girl mentions how she was able to attend her high school prom because someone donated a new heart to her. And a woman talks about her choice to become a living donor, and meeting the recipient of her kidney. In all, you watch 20 people—of different ages and ethnicities—tell their transplant stories in their own words.

Now it’s your turn at the counter. Do you have them place that red heart on your driver’s license?

Today, more than 113,000 people in the United States are waiting for organ transplants. More than half of those on the waiting list are minorities. But in 2011, only 14,000 people donated their organs while the waiting list grew by another 51,000 people.

In a study recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, my colleagues and I found that people were more likely to consent to become organ donors after watching a short iPod video at the DMV that addressed common concerns about organ donation and included testimonials from donors, transplant recipients and their loved ones. Eighty-four percent of people who watched the video—compared to 72 percent who did not—consented to be an organ donor on their driver’s permits, licenses or identification cards.

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