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Idaho beats national average for organ donation as officials encourage more of us to sign up

Stacy McGrew’s 14-year-old son, Christian Page, died in 2016. She takes comfort from the fact that five people were able to live after receiving his organs. McGrew was among the Idahoans touched by organ donation who spoke at an event Wednesday at the Idaho Transportation Department to promote organ donation.
Stacy McGrew’s 14-year-old son, Christian Page, died in 2016. She takes comfort from the fact that five people were able to live after receiving his organs. McGrew was among the Idahoans touched by organ donation who spoke at an event Wednesday at the Idaho Transportation Department to promote organ donation.

In Idaho, 64 percent of residents have signed up to be organ donors on their driver’s licenses or state ID card. That beats the national average, which is just 51 percent, according to the Idaho Transportation Department.

As high as Idaho’s rates are, ITD still wants more people to register as donors. Around 800 people are on the waiting list for organ donations in Idaho. The department held an event Wednesday to remind people how organ donation can help.

“No one expects to be a transplant recipient,” said Terri Magnuson, who received a cornea transplant. The “lovely, lovely donor’s gift,” said Magnuson, will make it possible for her to “see” her granddaughter grow up, “literally.”

Magnuson was among several speakers who shared their stories on Wednesday, along with recipients of hearts and livers and “donor mom” Stacy McGrew. She spoke about the death of her 14-year-old son Christian Page in the summer of 2016. The “blessing” that emerged from his death was being able to save five lives through the donation of Christian’s kidney and other organs.

In 2015, 113 organs were donated to Idahoans. In 2016, that number rose to 169.

Signing up to be an organ donor is simple, said officials. Customers at any county DMV site can select organ donation when completing a driver’s license or ID card transaction. Idahoans can also sign up on the Yes Idaho! organ donors website, yesidaho.org.

There are no transplant centers in the Gem State, so recipients go to Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City or Denver for transplants.

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