PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Donated organs saved more than 1,200 lives in New England last year, according to New England Donor Services.

That’s why Gov. Dan McKee declared April “Donate Life Month” in Rhode Island on Monday.

New England Donor Services, which represents the federally-designated nonprofit Organ Procurement Organization, is responsible for the surgical recovery of organs and tissues for transplant across the region.

Thanks to registered organ donors, the nonprofit estimates that more than 1,228 lives were saved across New England, and thousands more were enhanced through the gift of tissue donation.

More than 106,000 people are waiting for organ transplants across the country, including more than 6,700 New Englanders.

McKee said the state plays an important role in the donation process, with 99% of Rhode Islanders registering as an organ and tissue donor through the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

“The little heart on your card can make a big difference,” McKee said.

New England Donor Services is pushing for at least half of the state’s population to become registered organ donors. Right now, the nonprofit estimates that only 48% of the state is registered.

Anyone can register at the DMV when getting or renewing their driver’s license, Real ID or state ID.

Kim Dolan received a heart transplant almost a year after she was diagnosed with a rare congenital heart disease.

“Because of Leanne, who died from an overdose and gave me her heart, I’m living proof that donation works,” Dolan said.

Billy Partain’s husband died unexpectedly in 2018, but his tragedy became someone else’s miracle.

Partain’s husband was able to save the lives of three people because he was a registered organ donor. He was able to meet the man who received his husband’s heart, along with his family.

“This family helped in my healing more than they will ever know, and they will forever be a part of my life,” Partain said. “There is always a stethoscope around when I want to listen to my husband’s heart again.”

Doctors in Boston successfully completed the first successful living donor transplant between 23-year-old identical twins in 1954. Boston is now home to at least five transplant centers.

The Transplant Center at Rhode Island Hospital, which only deals with kidney donations, just celebrated its 25-year anniversary last week.

Dr. Paul Morrissey, who serves as the center’s director, said there are currently 260 people on their waiting list. But Morrissey noted that only approximately 60 people receive a transplant through their program.

“It turns out that part of the allocation is based on geography, and if a person dies in Rhode Island, and the organs are recovered in Rhode Island, it’s more likely that those organs will be transplanted to a citizen in Rhode Island,” Morrissey said.