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Countywide campaign aims to boost organ and tissue donors

Ashley Hirtzel

In honor of National ‘Donate Life’ month Erie County has launched a year-long campaign to increase the number of organ and tissue donors in New York State.

Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs says the goal of the campaign is to attract more than 22,000 county residents to New York State's Organ Donor Registry this year. The campaign will take place at Auto Bureau’s across the county, where specialists trained by Upstate New York Transplant Services or Unyts will be on hand to help people understand how to become an organ donor.

“We have over 10,000 New Yorkers that are waiting for a life saving organ transplant and just over 1,000 here in Erie County. Thousands more are waiting for life enhancing tissue and eye donations. These facts are real and these are our challenges that we’re going to try to be a major part of the solution for,”

Bill Williams is the father of youngest multi-organ recipient in the United States. His daughter Olivia, now 12, received a liver, intestines, pancreas, and stomach via donation when she was 7-months old. Williams says organ and tissue donation is so important.

“We’re just so thrilled to be able to tell Olivia’s story and help Erie County to raise awareness for organ donation. I hope that people will talk amongst their family as to what their wishes are and when the time comes to check that box and reach this goal.”

Jacobs says sadly, New York as a whole has one of the lowest donor rates in the country. He says he hopes the campaign will increase the number of organ and tissue donors in the county by 30 percent.