Utah's 'Donate Life' license plate gets 500 registrants, enough to begin production

Catcher McCardell, an Eagle Scout candidate, holds a sign with the proposed license plate design on March 30, 2021. A bill to add the license plate passed through the Utah Legislature, and has enough signatures to begin production.

Catcher McCardell, an Eagle Scout candidate, holds a sign with the proposed license plate design on March 30, 2021. A bill to add the license plate passed through the Utah Legislature, and has enough signatures to begin production. (Ladd Egan, KSL-TV)

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MURRAY — Lisa Osmond said her son Adam came home one day and was "just thrilled" to start telling her what he had learned about organ donations. She said he knew he was going to save a life someday, and made sure she knew that he wanted to be a donor.

A few weeks later, Osmond said hearing from doctors that her son, who had overdosed and was brain-dead, could donate his organs helped bring light to her situation. Her son gave three people life through organ donations, and helped more than 50 people with tissue donations, she said.

"What followed was the most wonderful experience through the depths of despair, and I don't know how you do that, but they did," Osmond said, thanking Donor Connect.

Osmond said she can't wait to get a license plate with a logo promoting organ donations onto her car.

Utah will now have a license plate available through Donor Connect that says "Donate Life" after a bill passed through the Utah Legislature in 2021 and 500 individuals signed up for the license plate so that production can begin.

After the bill passed, Donor Connect learned from the DMV that sometimes specialty plates don't go into production because there is not enough interest, and could also take multiple years. The organization began a race to try to get people signed up so they could get the license plate onto cars, and were able to have 500 people within the first year.

Brady Dransfield with Donor Connect said this success is due to the importance of the message, and he many lives in Utah which have been impacted by organ donation.

Last year's bill was named after Allyson Gamble, who received two heart transplants and passed away in late 2020. Her husband, Jim Gamble, said that her transplants were able to give her 16 more years to spend raising her children and making memories with her family.

When Allyson passed last year, she was able to give the same gift of life to others through organ donation.

Gamble said that is an honor for their family to have the Utah organ donation fund re-named in honor of Allyson, but he said it is important to remember that there was a team effort to make the fund and the license plate a reality.

"Please consider becoming a tissue and organ donor. Your gift can make a tremendous difference in the lives of others while leaving a touching legacy," Gamble said.

He also thanked Catcher McCardell for his work to bring the issue to the forefront last year.

Getting the license plate approved was an Eagle Scout project for McCardell, he said that he saw a "Donate Life" license plate on a road trip and asked his mom why they didn't have one on their car. He was told the plate was not available in Utah. He said when he began the project he did not realize how much involvement there would be. McCardell said, however, that he had a lot of support from family and friends, people at Donor Connect, and individuals at the Utah Legislature.

Tracy Schmidt, executive director of Donor Connect, said that McCardell's scout project would leave a lasting legacy. He thanked McCardell for his commitment to the project.

Schmidt said that nationally there was a record number of transplants over the last year, 41,354, a 5.9% increase over past years. He said that they also saw an increase on the local level, they had 196 donors, a 33% increase.

Although the number of donors went up significantly, the number of organs transplanted was at 482, which Schmidt said is only a few percentage points higher. He said 353 of the organs were able to be used locally. In addition to organ donors, the company had 389 tissue donations.

"It's been an amazing, but also a very challenging year," Schmit said.

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Emily Ashcraft joined KSL.com as a reporter in 2021. She covers courts and legal affairs, as well as health, faith and religion news.


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