Future health professionals add hundreds to Michigan Organ Donor Registry

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Annual HOSA challenge pits students in friendly competition to register new donors

Ann Arbor, MI – There are nearly 400 new organ and tissue donors registered in Michigan, thanks to the efforts of students across the state. The Sanilac HOSA chapter registered the most new donors during the 2020 HOSA challenge.

The students, from the Health Occupation Students of America – known as HOSA-Future Health Professionals – have just completed their third statewide competition with other Michigan HOSA chapters to register new organ and tissue donors and inspire support for organ and tissue donation.

The Gift of Life HOSA Challenge took place from Nov. 3 through Nov. 20, with 20 different schools taking part. The competition was changed this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and featured virtual events, activities and discussions. Despite the lack of prominent, public tables where students could register their peers HOSA students combined to add 374 new donors to the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.

“Hosting a virtual challenge presented some unique obstacles, but these young people really stepped up to the challenge,” said Alison Gillum, Community Relations Coordinator at Gift of Life Michigan. “They did an amazing job.”

Schools are awarded points for each new registration, as well as activities they coordinate to educate their peers about organ and tissue donation. There were more than 1,200 activities combined at the 20 schools. Sanilac HOSA registered the most new donors, with 133. The Grand Blanc HOSA chapter earned the most activity points, with 2,973.

Kalamazoo HOSA chapter students created comfort blankets for donor families. Tristan Johnson, a high school student from Kalamazoo who received a kidney transplant last year, said he thought it was important to educate his peers about the need for additional organ and tissue donors.

“A lot of people don’t know about organ donation unless it affects them directly,” he said. “The more people are aware of it, the more people will want to register – or be aware of the signs before they get too bad.”

The Kalamazoo HOSA chapter rallied for him; they finished third in activity points with 2,054. They also registered 17 new donors and made comfort blankets for donor families.

There are more than 110,000 people waiting for a new organ in the U.S., including 2,562 in Michigan. A single donor can save up to eight lives and help as many as 75 more through donated tissue.

“This has been an important partnership for us,” said Dorrie Dils, CEO of Gift of Life Michigan. “I am impressed with the energy, enthusiasm and creativity these students show in educating the community and advocating for organ and tissue donation. Each new registration brings new hope to the many people waiting for a life-saving transplant.”

HOSA students have registered more than 2,500 donors in the last three years. To see a complete list of participating schools, visit www.golm.org/hosa.

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