Celebrating partnerships that save lives

IDN 25Do you take your birthday for granted? For those folks waiting for an organ transplant, getting to that next birthday can be one more goal to achieve on a long journey.

The Iowa Department of Transportation has been a champion for organ donation for many years. Becoming an organ donor in Iowa is easy. You simply have to say “yes” to the question when asked at a driver’s license service center. We take it from there, getting your name listed on the organ donor registry.

In early August, we were able to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Iowa Donor Network, the group we have been working with since 2015 to register organ donors and raise awareness about organ and tissue donation.

County shirt photoMindi Nguyen, our community outreach coordinator, is our go-to person for organ donation. She attended the celebration with Driver & Identification Services director Darcy Doty and Iowa DOT Director Mark Lowe. Nguyen said, “We were humbled to meet the Lienemann family, who worked with the Iowa Donor Network to provide organ donor t-shirts for our state and county issuance staff. Originally, the shirts were provided and to be worn during the month of April which is “Donate Life” month. You may have seen staff representing their shirts and being featured on our social media feeds.”

For us at the Iowa DOT, our county treasurer partners, and our customers, the Lienemann’s simple gesture of providing t-shirts which provided a visual reminder to customers of the option of adding organ donation to their card has had a huge impact. Nguyen said, “We received countless stories of individuals saying ‘Yes’ to becoming an organ donor for the first time, in part, due to the Iowa Donor Network and the Lienemanns. With the outpouring of support, driver’s issuance staff, both at Iowa DOT facilities and county treasurer’s offices, now wear their shirts weekly and continue to highlight the heroism of Drew’s story and the importance of considering organ donation.”

Since April 2019 when we started to highlight Drew’s story and wear organ donor t-shirts weekly, the number of people saying “yes” to the organ donation at driver’s license issuance sites has increased 2 percent. Nguyen said, “This is incredible and without a doubt, a tribute to Drew’s lasting impact, life, and continuing legacy. It is through human connection and partnerships that we truly understand the importance of our work and its intended and unintended effect on others.”

Organ donor pull quote (1)

The Lienemann’s story is one of great loss and tragedy. But they used the loss of their son, Drew, to positively impact thousands of others.

Drew poster


Group with check
From left to right: Kaylie Hoyle (Iowa Donor Network cultural ambassador), Darcy Doty (Iowa DOT Driver & Identification Services director), Mindi Nguyen (Iowa DOT community outreach coordinator), Dan Lienemann and Wanda Lienemann (Drew’s parents), Suzanne Conrad (CEO, Iowa Donor Network), & Mark Lowe (Iowa DOT director)

During the celebration, Drew’s family surprised the Iowa Donor Network with an additional donation of $10,000 to continue supporting their life-saving efforts. As a show of our appreciation, we presented Drew’s parents, Dan and Wanda, with a personalized plate that says “Drew - Hope.” We also presented IDN with plates that say, “IDN 25 – Give Hope,” and “Say Yes – Save a Life.”

Losing a loved one is never easy nor is the decision to donate a loved one’s organs. Drew’s parents shared, “Our relationships with the Iowa Donor Network and the Iowa DOT have helped with the healing and grief process. It provides hope and focuses on Drew’s legacy and heroism. This gives us continued hope and connection to our son.”


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