ST. PETERSBURG, FL — When you visit the Pinellas County Tax Collector’s Office for a new driver license, chances are you will be asked whether you are interested in becoming an organ donor.
For some tax collector customer service technician Jessica Dyksterhouse, this question isn’t simply routine.
It’s personal. She believes her mother, Sonia Platt, wouldn’t be alive today if someone had decided not to check the organ donor box on the driver’s license form.
Sonia Platt was at church when her daughter got the call in March 2016. After only two weeks on the transplant list, both the pancreas and kidney that Platt needed to save her life were available.
Platt’s surgery was successful, and both mother and daughter are grateful that the anonymous donor had the forethought to agree to donate organs. But they realize that Platt’s short time on the organ transplant list is an anomaly. Some people have waited years to receive organ transplants.
Among those who have been hoping and praying is tax supervisor Christine Frangipane. Her son, Frankie, has been on the organ transplant waiting list for 10 months. Like Platt, he needs both a kidney and a pancreas.
With this issue touching so close to home, Pinellas County Tax Collector Charles W. Thomas has partnered with LifeLink Foundation and Donate Life Florida to encourage drivers to register as organ donors.
Throughout April, which is National Donate Life Month, tax collector’s office employees will sport Donate Life T-shirts and lapel pins to remind customers to sign a donor registration certificate and donate to the campaign.
In 2017, only 59 percent registered as organ donors during an in-office driver license visit at the Pinellas County Tax Collector’s Office. That’s 10 percent higher than the statewide average, but it’s not good enough as far as Thomas is concerned.
Nearly 120,000 children and adults in the United States are waiting for life-saving organ transplants. This includes more than 5,000 in Florida. Approximately 22 people die every day while waiting for an organ transplant.
"We are honored to do our part to help the many families in Pinellas County and throughout the United States who are waiting to receive that life-saving phone call that an organ is available," said Thomas.T
If you are not due for a new driver’s license, you can always register as an organ donor online at Donate Life Florida.
Image via Jessica Dyksterhouse