by George Taniwaki

I went to the local Washington Department of Licensing office last week to renew my driver’s license. Just like I did ten years ago, I registered to be an organ donor. I urge you to do the same and give the gift of life.

You don’t have to wait until your driver’s license comes up for renewal to do it. You can do it today on the web. Find your state’s registry at If you live in Washington state like me, you can go directly to LifeCenter Northwest’s web site at

Incidentally, I noticed something new on my new driver’s license. On the upper right is the word “DONOR” followed by a heart-shaped icon. On my previous license only the icon was displayed and its meaning was ambiguous. I like the change.


Figure 1. Register to be an organ donor


I notice a few other changes from the last time I renewed my driver’s license ten years ago.

  1. The lines were short and the process was efficient.
  2. Previously, driver’s licenses were printed while you waited at the DoL office. Now the ID photograph is taken at the DoL office, but the actual driver’s license is mailed to you. My guess is that centralizing the printing allows more sophisticated security measures to be embedded in the card. It also reduces the opportunity for local DoL employees to make counterfeit licenses.
  3. I had to take my glasses off for the ID photo. This is probably so that a photograph can be taken of me later (perhaps during an arrest) and my identity determined by using facial recognition software to compare the new photograph to the existing photograph in a DoL database. The facial recognition must compare features that don’t change readily like the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. It ignores jewelry, facial hair, and facial expression.