Niagara County Celebrates “Donate Life Month”

Niagara County Clerk Joseph A. Jastrzemski, joined by New York State Commissioner of  the Department of Motor Vehicles Mark Schroeder and other local dignitaries, celebrated April as “Donate Life Month” at a press event Thursday at the North Tonawanda DMV.  Throughout the month, those who have saved lives through the gift of a donation are honored and efforts are made to encourage more people to register as organ, eye and tissue donors.

The highlight of the event was recognizing local residents Tim Synor and Paulette Welker, both of whom received heart transplants just over 10 years ago.   Tim and Paulette told their personal journeys and how appreciative they were to the two people who had made the decision to become organ donors that saved their lives.

“There are more than 10,000 women, men and children in New York State waiting for lifesaving organ transplants, and every 10 minutes, another person is added to the national transplant waiting list,” said Jastrzemki.  “The fact is that one organ, eye and tissue donor can save eight lives and enhance 75 more.  Tim and Paulette are with us today because people cared enough to become donors.”

Commissioner Schroeder said 85 percent of those who sign up to be donors in New York State do so through the DMV and thanked the Niagara County DMV staff for their continued efforts to raise awareness.  The Commissioner also lauded Niagara County residents for their high level of participation.

“Niagara County has more than 112,000 residents signed up for the donor registry, which is 66 percent of all those eligible,” said Schroeder.  “The state of Colorado leads all states in the country in donor enrollment at 66 percent, so Niagara County rivals Colorado in participation.”

Jastrzemski said residents can sign up to be organ donors by visiting the state registry at or at any of the county’s three Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices in Lockport, Niagara Falls and North Tonawanda.  Jastrzemski said the DMV offices are all decorated to promote Donate Life month.

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Pictured:  Paulette Welker and Tim Synor, left, cut the cake celebrating more than 10 years as recipients of heart transplants.  They were joined by NYS DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder, County Clerk Joe Jastrzemski, North Tonawanda Mayor Austin Tyelc, Niagara County Legislator Rich Andres, New York State Assemblyman Angelo Morinello and North Tonawanda Alderman Joe Marranca.