Saving lives one link at a time

Gift of Life Campus Challenge encourages organ donor registration


Courtesy of Michelle Andriacchi

GIFT OF LIFE – Student Nurses Association spreads awareness of Gift of Life Challenge at Wildpups event held on Jan. 30. The challenge encourages students and community members to register to become organ donors, and concludes March 2.

Jackie Phillips

The Gift of Life Campus Challenge has returned to Northern Michigan University until March 2, 2023, with the help of the NMU Student Nurses Association (SNA)

The Gift of Life is a federally designated organ and tissue recovery program that is headquartered in Ann Arbor, MI. Incorporated in 1971, the Gift of Life recovers more than one thousand organs every year, as well as recovering bones, skin and tissues from donors. The Gift of Life runs the campus challenge every year. 

The goal of the challenge is to have students and community members register to become organ donors through a specialized direct link. The school that registers the most donors wins the challenge. Around 15 colleges in the state of Michigan are registered for the competition, such as Wayne State University who has won for the last 11 years

In order to earn points towards the competition, students attend events and participate in activities that earn points. The SNA is spreading the word by sharing on social media, hanging posters and hosting events for the challenge, like a virtual trivia night on March 1 at 6 p.m.

There will be an open Zoom link for the trivia night and each individual that attends earns NMU a point towards the challenge. If NMU earns the highest number of points, those points will then be doubled.

Anyone can get NMU points towards the challenge, SNA president Ally Anderson said. 

“They don’t necessarily have to be students or faculty,” Anderson said. “They can be family, friends, anyone who uses the Northern link.”

According to the National Kidney Foundation, when patients are put on the donor waiting list, they can either get an organ relatively fast or they can wait three to five years on average. Various factors play into patients being eligible for a transplant, including blood type and even antibody matching. However, anyone can join the Michigan Organ Donor registry, regardless of health status. 

Being an organ donor gives people the chance to help others live a long and healthy life, Anderson said. 

“It’s something I’m passionate about,” Anderson said. “[Donors] are ultimately being like ‘Hey I got to use my organs, I’m not going to be using them anymore now that I’ve passed, let me give that gift to someone else.’ It’s a huge thing.”  

Students and community members can register to be an organ donor here. Individuals can click on the link, which will then track that Northern gets points, even for individuals who don’t live in the state of Michigan. 

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration’s website, 105,800 individuals are on the national transplant waiting list. The HRSA also states that every 10 minutes another person gets added to the list while 17 people die each day waiting for a transplant. 

One person can save eight lives with their organs, according to Michelle Andriacchi, assistant professor at the school of nursing.

“We can save up to 75 others with our tissues, eyes and things like grafting,” Andriacchi said. “I think that’s a huge fact, I think that’s super, super cool.” 

To learn more about organ donation and the Gift of Life, click here.