Transplant group seeks donors

More than 107,000 people nationwide are in need of organs.
John Johndrow assists junior Brett Dinkins on Tuesday with registration to become an organ donor at the MU Student Center. The Missouri Organ and Tissue Donor Registry hosted the event as friendly competition with the University of Kansas to see which campus could have the most students register before Nov. 29.

According to the Missouri Organ Donor Registry, organs taken from a single donor can help save the lives of as many eight people.

On Tuesday, John McNeely and Erin Gregory worked to potentially increase the number of people who benefit from those donated organs.

Gregory and McNeely — both with the Midwest Transplant Network, an organ procurement organization -- worked a table in the MU Student Center earlier this week. They distributed information about the need for donated organs and encouraged students to sign up on the state’s organ donor registry.

People who are part of the state’s donation registry can receive a special heart-shaped insignia on their driver’s license to alert doctors that their organs can be donated if they die as the result of an accident or injury.

McNeely, a clinical coordinator for MWTN, said the purpose of Tuesday’s event was two-fold. It was meant to bring attention to the need for donated organs and was also part of a friendly “Border Showdown” competition the company is sponsoring to see which university — MU or the University of Kansas — will have more students sign up.

“I think it’s good for people to think about those around you,” he said. “The main thing is to bring attention and awareness to it.”

In addition to pamphlets about how and why people should donate organs, the stand also gave away several free items such as heart-shaped key chains, braclets and chapstick with the theme of “Donate Life.”

Gregory, an MWTN spokeswoman, said one donor could save more than half a dozen lives. She said events that give people a way to register or verify their registration status allows students to make a personal decision.

“I think it’s good to empower people to make a decision on their own,” she said. “It’s a really important decision because you have to think about your family and friends who my be affected by organ donation one day.”

Missouri’s organ donor registry is a “first-person” registry, which means the donor makes the decision to donate their organs and cannot be overruled by family members. In 2009, the registry went online and people can now access a record of their registration to update it with a username and password.

According to the website for the U.S. Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, more than 108,000 people are in need of donated organs nationwide. About 14,000 transplants were performed in the first six months of 2010 using donation organs.

The stand at MU on Tuesday had drawn about a dozen people looking for information by midday. Senior Lisa Kimble was among them and said she was already in the state’s donor registry. She said she wanted to double-check her status to see if it needed updating. Kimble said she wanted to be able to aid people in need of a donation if she died.

“I’d like to be able to help people,” she said. “If I’m done with it, why can’t it help someone else?”

MWTN will host another organ donation information table from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday at the School of Nursing.

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