July 17, 2024

Healt Hid

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Check Your Heart Rally encourages organ donation and education

2 min read

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– Hundreds gathered at the state Capitol yesterday to unite those who have been affected by organ and tissue donation.

‘Gift of Life Michigan’ put on the “Check Your Heart Rally,” which brought together donor families, recipients and those still waiting for that lifesaving gift. This year’s focus is educating the next generation and encouraging young teens to become donors.

(Photo: Check your Heart Rally encourages organ donation and education)

“One of the big things that we’re talking about today is our need for education among teenagers in the state of Michigan,” said Dorrie Dils, the president and CEO of Gift of Life Michigan. “Our state, unlike surrounding states… we don’t have a requirement that there’s education in high school that there’s tissue and organ donation.”

Dils says that only 21% of new drivers registered as an organ donor and only about half the rate as most states.

“The new legislation we are pushing for is to encourage schools to add education to their high school curriculum about organ and tissue donation,” said Dils.

(Photo: Check your Heart Rally encourages organ donation and education)

The event featured speakers like Jill Soave, whose son, Justin Schilling was killed in the Oxford high school shooting.

“Justin was a giver, spending his final moments protecting another student and saving six lives with his gift,” said Soave. “Justin was brain dead, but miraculously he was still able to donate his organs. This was a light in the darkness for all who knew and loved Justin.”

Another mother, Wendy Smith, shared her story. When her son Cody passed away a few years ago, he was able to give 117 gifts of life.

“Because he was generous and wanted to be a donor, there are people now who are now able to live and hug their grandkids,” said Smith.

One of those recipients, Chris Kowalski, now carries Cody’s heart.

(Photo: Check your Heart Rally encourages organ donation and education)

“The first time I met Chris, he got me this build-a-bear,” said Smith, holding the bear has a recording of Cody’s heart beating inside Chris. “So anytime I want to hear my son’s heart beating and feel it next to me, I can do that.”

This event highlighted the importance of organ donation. Today, about 2,500 Michiganders are waiting for a lifesaving organ. To register or to learn more about becoming a donor, visit the Gift of Life Michigan website

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