Annual Gift of Life Campus Challenge aims to sign up new organ donors

This article orginally appeared on media.wayne.edu.

An average of 21 people die each day waiting for organ transplants, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Wayne State University students are working together in hopes of someday bringing that number to zero as they sign up students, professors, alumni and community members for the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.

Colleges throughout the state are competing in the Gift of Life Campus Challenge, one of the most successful organ donation college outreach programs in the nation, recognized by the U.S. government for its exceptional results.

Since 2012, Wayne State has gone undefeated, winning the trophy for adding the most names to the donor registry. Over the years, the WSU community has been inspired by the memory of student Rebecca Joy Butler, daughter of associate business professor Timothy Butler. 

Rebecca, 20, was pursuing a marketing degree at Wayne State when she was diagnosed with a rare lung disease. While waiting for a transplant, she learned that 100,000 people were also awaiting organs and made it her mission to start a donor registry at WSU. She died in May 2011, still waiting for a lung. 

Since then, her Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority sisters and other students have teamed up to spread the word about the need for donors through email messages, social media, public service announcements, posters and at donor registry stations throughout campus. 

"We continue to do this because we have the potential to save lives," said Beverly Butler, Rebecca’s mother. "Some people may not sign up for another week, year or decade. But we want to create awareness and empower people with facts."

Gift of Life Michigan reports that in 2014, the generosity of the state's 253 organ donors resulted in 797 lifesaving organ transplants. As of Feb. 1, 2015, more than 3,400 Michigan patients are waiting for a transplant.

The Gift of Life Campus Challenge concludes Thursday, Feb. 26. To register, visit giftoflifemichigan.org/go/waynestate.