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Check Your Heart Rally at State Capitol encourages next generation to donate life

Group of patients waiting for organ transplants carrying a banner reading "Waiting to Live" along the Capitol sidewalk

Hundreds expected in support of organ, eye and tissue donation on June 12

Hundreds of organ, eye and tissue donation supporters are expected to join Gift of Life Michigan in Lansing on June 12 to encourage new donation legislation aimed at growing the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.

Check Your Heart Capitol Rally on June 12, 2024The annual Check Your Heart rally will feature inspiring speakers, information on joining the Donor Registry and the March of Honor, a moving tribute to all those personally touched by donation. Among the speakers: Jill Soave, the mother of Justin Shilling who was killed in the 2021 shooting at Oxford High School. He was a registered donor and saved six lives.

This year’s focus is on the need for organ, eye and tissue donation education, especially for teens, who often don’t know enough about it before they get presented with the Donor Registry question when getting their first driver’s license or state ID. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the lawn of the Capitol building.

“Only 21 percent of new drivers register as organ donors in Michigan, about half the percentage that other states receive,” said Dorrie Dils, president and CEO, Gift of Life Michigan. “We know it’s not because they’re less generous. We believe they’re lacking the valuable information needed to make that life-saving decision and we’re committed to helping them learn.”

Gift of Life educates some Michigan teens through its All of Us program for high schoolers. The one-hour program experience offers information about the donation process, activities that demonstrate what it’s like to need a transplant and literature to aid in family discussion about donation. Gift of Life staff visited more than 360 schools last year to provide the education, but more is needed.

The organization’s most important public policy initiative is the High School Organ Education Bill (HB5174), which would require education about organ donation in Michigan public schools for all 9th graders. Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois have similar requirements in schools. Michigan does not. Rep. Felicia Brabec, (Pittsfield Twp), the bill’s sponsor, will be speaking about this vital legislation at the rally.

Other key speakers: Educator and tissue recipient Lyniece McNair-Levi, and state Senator Kevin Daley, whose son was an organ donor.

Thanks to partnering transplant centers, complimentary bus transportation from Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and Bloomfield Township is available but limited. To secure transportation and register for the Rally visit golm.org/rallyrsvp.

More than 4.5 million Michigan residents are on the Donor Registry. About 2,500 Michigan residents are waiting for a life-saving organ. The best way to save lives is by joining the Donor Registry. To register or learn more about the donation process, visit giftoflifemichigan.org.

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