The number of Minnesotans willing to be organ donors is rising sharply, state officials said Thursday.
People designating themselves as registered donors on driver's licenses or state ID cards have increased by 13 percent in three years to 2.6 million, according to the state Department of Public Safety.
Nearly 63 percent of Minnesotans are registered as organ, eye and tissue donors, compared with 45 percent nationally, the agency added.
"Minnesotans are generous and are eager to support important work, so it's no wonder that more than half of our friends and neighbors are organ donors," Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman said in a statement announcing the figures.
Minnesotans applying for or renewing their driver's licenses or state ID cards have long had the opportunity to check a box to designate themselves as organ, tissue and eye donors. In recent years, a television commercial has aired widely showing a man contemplating whether to check the box. When he does, he receives warm endorsements from the others seated in the waiting area behind him.
Despite the record number of organ donors, more than 3,100 people in the state are waiting for a lifesaving transplant. In 2012, 3,845 people in the United States — 101 in Minnesota — died while on the transplant list because an organ was not available.
The department added that registration is benefiting from the "You & $2" program, which has raised more than $108,000 since 2012. Minnesotans applying for or renewing their driver's licenses or state ID cards can contribute $2 to the program, which funds educational efforts about donation.