One Donate Life Month Equals Thousands of Registered Donors

Kristie Nielson CorningDuring April's successful Donate Life Month, UW Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) staff joined hospital staff and volunteers from across the state to create and attend more than 50 donation education events.


Mary Nachreiner, community and family services specialist for the UW OPO, joined her co-workers in coordinating several events. Mary credits the success of Donate Life Month to the great teamwork exhibited by countless individuals.

"I am so proud of our many volunteers, hospital partners and staff members," Nachreiner said. "They worked tirelessly to encourage Wisconsinites to register as organ, tissue and eye donors."

"Given the fact that online registrations in April were more than double the typical month," said Nachreiner, "clearly illustrates their message and passion was conveyed."

Kristie Nielson Corning, donor mom and Department of Transportation (DOT) employee, organized three Donate Life Month lunch and learn sessions for DOT employees. Her passion for the mission began in August of 2003 when her daughter Annie passed away from a brain aneurysm and became a donor.

"Being involved in organ donation activities gives us all the ability to make an impact," said Kristie. "If only one person chooses to be an organ, tissue and eye donor our mission has been fulfilled." Kristie adds, "That one person might become a ray of hope for those who thought theirs' had been lost."

Other successful Donate Life Month activities included Dilly for a Dot Day and the Race 4 Life Scavenger Hunt. Hosted by Agnesian Healthcare, Dilly for a Dot Day was held on Thursday, April 12 at their Fond du Lac, Ripon and Waupun hospitals. Representatives from several tissue and organ recovery agencies joined local volunteers to hand out Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen to each new registered donor, as well as people who had already registered. About 560 people registered as donors during their event.


Later in the month, on April 27, North Central Wisconsin Donate Life held their sixth annual Race 4 Life Scavenger Hunt in Wausau. This popular event, which combines a scavenger hunt with an "Amazing Race" time limit, drew a record-breaking number of teams and subsequently donated more funds than ever to the UW OPO Donor Education Fund and the Restoring Hope Transplant House. Local media provided coverage of the event, and donation facts were included in the race as participants ran around Wausau completing the "hunt."

Although Donate Life Month is over, the work to fill the Wisconsin Donor Registry is far from done. With the help of dedicated individuals, the future for those in need of transplants looks bright. And, whether big or small, all donation education events are important, as the state works to remind everyone about the importance or registering as a donor.

"It is truly a privilege to be a part of this mission," said Nachreiner. "Together we are offering hope to the 2,000 people in Wisconsin who are waiting for a life-saving gift, and we are honoring the legacy of the donors."