By JOSH NICHOLS
Daily Press writer
The Colorado Donor Awareness Council recently released figures showing a significant increase in the number of people agreeing to organ and tissue donation in the year 2001.
Amy Kusek, program coordinator of the Colorado Donor Awareness Council driver's license program, said the increase was due to the Sept. 11 disaster and an extensive ad campaign by the Donor Awareness Council.
Reports show that although Colorado issued 130,038 fewer driver licenses and photo identification cards in 2001 than in 2000, there were 54,720 more licenses and i.d. card applicants who said "yes" to donations.
There was a 2 percent increase in donors in Craig, compared to a 6 percent increase statewide.
But Kusek said rural communities often lag behind in the number of organ donors, and a 2 percent increase in Craig is positive.
Since 1999, drivers licenses offices in Colorado have seen 167,000 additional Coloradans agree to donation.
"This is the most encouraging development we've seen," said Marlene Murphy, executive director of the Donor Awareness Council. "We are showing strong progress in public support, which is a wonderful return on the efforts invested in our education and awareness programs."
The agency still has not met its goal for the number of donors needed.
"Although organ donation was up 8 percent, the waiting list for organ transplants continues to climb, increasing by 30 percent in 2001.
The Donor Awareness Council cited four factors that have caused the increase. They include:
A "Say Yes, Colorado" awareness campaign.
A growing public awareness program implemented through churches and schools.
Television and newspaper public service announcements and advertising.
Increased media coverage demonstrating the positive effects of donation in saving and enhancing lives.
"We saw what we believe was a cumulative effect of these efforts starting in the second quarter of 2000," Kusek said. "There's been an increase in positive responses every quarter since then, averaging nearly 2 percent growth every three months."