“No way,” the girl replied. “I don't want them to take my organs if I get into a car wreck.”
After the mother informed the teen that her organs wouldn't be harvested unless she had died in a car wreck, the young driver signed up as a donor.
The story, told Wednesday by the recipient of two kidney donations, Bev Neth, the head of the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles, illustrates the myths that prevent some people from becoming organ donors.
Joann Schaefer, the state's chief medical officer, said among those myths are that a family must pay to donate organs of a loved one and that an organ donor cannot have an open-casket funeral. Both are untrue, said Schaefer, who also is the recipient of a donated liver three years ago.
The two state officials joined Gov. Dave Heineman in declaring April “Donate Life Month” and in urging more Nebraskans to become organ donors.
Currently, 458 residents of the state are on waiting lists for organ and tissue donations. Forty-two Nebraskans died last year while on such lists.
People can register as organ donors when they renew their drivers license or by visiting the website, DonateLifeNebraska.com.
In Nebraska, 47.5 percent of people have registered as organ donors, with registration varying from a state-high 61.1 percent in western Nebraska's Arthur County to a low of 25.1 percent in northeast Nebraska's Thurston County.
Douglas County's registration rate is 49.1 percent.
Officials said one person can save eight lives through organ donations, restore sight to two people via cornea donation, and help 50 others via tissue donation.