A simple question: Organ recipient says 'Yes' to registering as organ, tissue donor

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Photo collage of a young girl living a good life

Lella, a real-life poster child of Donate Life Colorado, had a full-circle moment when she went to the Delta driver license office to get her instruction permit and was asked the same question that saved her life — would you like to be an organ, eye and tissue donor?

“I said yes,” Lella Young said. 

Lella was born with a rare condition called biliary atresia that affected her liver. Placed on the liver transplant list at only six months old, Lella received a new liver a month later. 

“I always said I wanted to be a donor and I know the importance,” she said.

At 6-years-old, Lella Young was featured in nonprofit Donate Life Colorado’s marketing campaign. Donate Life Colorado has a long-standing partnership with the Division of Motor Vehicles; every person who walks into a driver license office is asked if they would like to be an organ, eye and tissue donor when getting an instruction permit, identification card or driver license. Those who say yes have a heart with a “Y” to symbolize the person is on the donor registry.

Lella’s liver came from a 17-year-old who died in a car crash in Iowa.

“We’re close with the donor’s family,” Lella’s mom, Lyndall Young said. “The family knew she wanted to donate even though she was only 17 because she had the heart on her driver license.”

Through Donate Life Colorado, Lella and her mom have met many transplant recipients and have always been grateful for the gift it’s given her.

“I wouldn’t be here without it — it’s truly a gift of life,” Lella said.

Colorado has the nation’s highest Donor Designation Rates (DDR). In 2022, 66% of Coloradans said yes to being an organ, eye and tissue donor when getting their driver license or ID. That’s 1,028,474 Coloradans who said yes to donating life. To put that in perspective, the national average for DDR is 50%.

The Colorado DMV helped make a record number of life-saving  organ transplants possible across the U.S. in 2022 through donor registration, according to Donate Life America. In Colorado, 278 organ donors provided 829 life-saving transplants in 2022. Additionally, 1,911 tissue donors saved and healed lives through their gifts of life.

Despite the progress that has been made, there are still around 1,500 people in Colorado on the transplant waiting list. Saying Yes when obtaining or renewing a driver license or state ID supports the mission to save the lives of our neighbors through organ, eye and tissue donation. Learn more about Lella’s story and visit DonateLifeColorado.org for more information about organ, eye and tissue donation.