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Deadline approaches for organ donor registration

Feb. 14, 2006

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University is currently second in a friendly, life-saving competition to increase the number of Michigan citizens who are registered to become organ donors when they die.

Sixteen colleges and universities in the state are competing in the third annual Gift of Life Michigan University Challenge. The competition, which began Jan. 9 and will end Sunday, Feb. 19, seeks to add people to the Gift of Life Organ, Tissue & Eye Donor Registry.

WMU community members, families and friends may take part in the challenge by completing an online form (make sure WMU is selected in the drop-down menu located under "University Challenge").

In an e-mail message to the University community Jan. 9, David, Rozelle, interim chairperson of WMU's Department of accountancy, brought home the importance of taking part in the competition.

"As some of you know, I received a life-saving heart transplant just over four years ago. I know the agony of waiting for a life-saving organ that may never come," Rozelle wrote.

"Last year, we gathered more new donors than any university in the state. We can do that again if you will register as a donor yourself. You really will save a life someday. You really are making a gift of life."

The Gift of Life Michigan University Challenge is a joint effort of the Michigan Department of State and the nonprofit organization, Gift of Life. Schools participating in the challenge have a chance to win a traveling trophy for having the largest total number of registrants and/or for having the largest percentage of registrants in relation to their student population.

More than 3,200 people had responded to the 2006 University Challenge as of noon Feb. 10. Some 600 people names had been added to the donor registry on behalf of WMU, about 90 fewer registrants than the current leader, Wayne State University, and nearly 130 more registrants than third-place Michigan State University.

In terms of percentage based on total enrollment, Bay College is in first with 5.56 percent, followed by Finlandia University, Muskegon Community College, and WMU, which has garnered a 2.31 percent response.

The Gift of Life Organ, Tissue & Eye Donor Registry is a confidential, 24-hour-a-day, computerized database. It documents Michiganders' wishes regarding organ donations (heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestine) and tissues (cornea/eye, skin, bone, heart valves, veins and tendons).

Gift of Life Michigan encourages state residents to add their names to its donor registry in addition to sharing their donation wishes with their family members and filling out the donation information on the backs of their driver's licenses.

But officials from the organization say that because Gift of Life of Michigan is contacted upon every hospital death, signing up for the donor registry is the best way to ensure an individual's wishes will be carried out.

Last year, 614 Michigan patients received an organ transplant through the generosity of anonymous donors and their families. Sadly, however, not enough organs were available for those in need, and 84 Michigan patients died waiting for a transplant. Nearly 2,900 Michigan patients are currently waiting for a life-saving transplant.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
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