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Donation takes guts

New group encourages students to give the gift of life

Published: Friday, April 7, 2006

Updated: Monday, August 9, 2010 14:08

Everyday, 16 people die while waiting for an organ transplant because of the shortage of organ donations.

"I don't understand why anyone wouldn't be an organ donor, because you don't need your organs after you die," said Tiffany Tripp, president of the newly organized club Students for Organ Donation.

Organ donation has been a part of Tripp's life for awhile now. Her family got involved in 1999 when her brother Ryan, also known as "The Lawnmower Boy," was planning a trip across the country on a lawnmower. The family wanted to raise awareness for a good cause - organ donation.

Now Tiffany, a junior majoring in community health education, has decided to start SOD to continue raising awareness for the cause.

A lot of people aren't donors because they aren't aware that they can be, Tripp said, which is why she wanted to set up the club.

"I guess I just started being passionate about it because of Ryan's trip. We learned a whole lot about it," Tripp said. "In 1999, we spent the whole summer raising awareness for organ and tissue donation."

One of the things Tripp said she hears all the time is that people think doctors won't save their life if they are in need of an organ.

"The doctors have nothing to do with that. It's a whole different network," Tripp said. "It's not even the doctor of physician that knows if there's an organ needed or not. The first thing for the doctor is to save a life and to sustain life."

The main thing you want to do if you want to become a donor is to let your family know, Tripp said.

"If you don't let them know, they will probably say no when it comes down to it," Tripp said.

More than 80,000 people are awaiting a life-saving transplant and every half hour another name is added to the waiting list, Tripp said.

April is National Donate Life Month, so events are happening to raise awareness.

One of those is the third-annual Second Chance 5K Run/Walk that will be held April 8.

Irene Elbert, chairman of the event, said she started holding the race because her daughter had a heart transplant five years ago.

"She has a life she wouldn't have had," Elbert said. "She has a whole new life."

She said her daughter's story and another story of a young person who died without getting a transplant motivated her to do something.

"We started doing this to help people know how bad the organs are needed," Elbert said.

This Saturday, the Second Chance 5K Run/Walk will be held on campus at 9 a.m.

There will be several special guests at the event, including organ donor recipients, families of organ donors and families who have waited for or are waiting for an organ donor, Elbert said.

Cost of registration after April 1 is $15 and walkups can register from 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. the day of the race. Runners will start and end at the USU track and field complex northeast of Romney Stadium.

"People don't realize how much it helps people," Elbert said.

To become a registered organ and tissue donor, go to yesutah.org or yesidaho.org. More information on organ and tissue donation can be found at donatelife.net.

After deciding to become an organ donor, the person should declare their wish on their driver's license. After that, they should join the donor registry, tell family members, physician, faith leader and friends. When all of that is complete, a donor card should always be carried in the donor's wallet.

Since SOD is just starting, she is looking for help to get it going. Anyone wanting to help or to be an officer can contact her at tiffanyt@cc.usu.edu.

-hollyadams@cc.usu.edu

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