MONTPELIER, Vt. - For the first time, Vermont has reached 12 months in a row of monthly organ and tissue donation registrations rates of over 50 percent.
It's something Matt Boger, with advocacy group Donate Life Vermont, praises the state's Department of Motor Vehicles for.
"Each and every day, presenting this question, 'Would you like to register as an organ and tissue donor?' when they get and/or renew their driver's license," said Boger.
95 percent of Vermonters register to be an organ and tissue donor at the State DMV.
Rob Ide, the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles, says it's an event that really grows the community.
"It helps us touch each other in a way that is not a traditional way for state government," said Ide.
Sadly, some like Carrie Bogie have to make the decision for others.
"When I was first asked if I had thought about organ donation, I became angry. Not angry at the question, but angry that this was now my life," said Bogie.
Her husband, Nicholas, died March 31, 2011.
"In the following days, my anger turned into hope. Hope that even though Nick was no longer with us, he was still saving others lives," said Bogie.
He left behind two children; seven year-old Brayden, and five year-old Brynn, who was born just months after Nick passed away.
Eileen Rooney Hausermann's story is a bit different.
"I offered to donate to the little boy, Kenny. He was ten years-old. And before the process really got started, he passed on," said Rooney Hausermann.
"So I went back to the transplant center at UVM Medical Center and said I'd like to donate, I just don't have anybody to donate to," said Rooney Hausermann.
From there, she started the process of becoming the first stranger donor at the hospital.
In 2004, she donated a kidney to Jennifer Dudley, a woman she'd never met, but lived one town over in Colchester. Though Dudley passed away, she was able to live for ten more years, thanks to her new friend's gift.
"She flew all over the world with that kidney, she had a very full life," said Rooney Hausermann.
She adds of course, not all stories are like hers.
"It was almost painless. And the payoff was huge and it's something that's with me forever, as Jenni is," said Rooney Hausermann.
In 2016, more than 1,033 lives were saved in New England due to those who became donors.
If you want to register to become a donor, you can do so at registerme.org.
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