DOL Director Teresa Berntsen honors organ donors, families for “ultimate act of kindness”

April 4, 2019
Teresa Berntsen speaks at award ceremony honoring organ donors

Department of Licensing Director Teresa Berntsen speaks Thursday at the Gift of Life Award ceremony honoring organ donors and their loved ones.

Calling organ donation “the ultimate act of kindness,” Department of Licensing Director Teresa Berntsen expressed humility, admiration, and gratitude for organ donors during an emotional ceremony Thursday at the Capitol building in Olympia. The event honored Washington state residents who gave organs in 2018 and their families.

The Gift of Life Award is presented annually by the governor’s office in partnership with LifeCenter Northwest, a federally designated nonprofit organ procurement organization that serves Washington, Alaska, Montana, and north Idaho.

Prior to introducing Gov. Jay Inslee, Berntsen said organ donation “exemplifies the graciousness of our humanity.”

The Department of Licensing has long played a key role in connecting people in need of organ transplants with donors. More than 99 percent of organ donor registrations in Washington are facilitated by DOL.

“Whether it is in person, online, or by mail, by saying ‘yes’ to donation through our agency, we are able to support legal authorization for people to donate all organs, eyes, and tissues for life-saving or -enhancing transplants,” Berntsen said.

As of March 1, 1,683 people in Washington were on the organ transplant waiting list, according to figures from the United Network for Organ Sharing. It is estimated 20 people die each day waiting for an organ donation.

Learn how to become an organ donor.