2014 Transplant and Organ Donation Calendar: Kaylin Burr

Kaylin and her sister promote organ donation through their Green Out Game.When Kaylin Burr was just five years old, she became very sick. By age seven she could only make it through a few hours of school each day, and then only because she could take a nap on a bean bag chair that was purchased especially for her. 


"I don't think she even remembers much of second grade," said Kaylin's mom, Sheila.


Kaylin was diagnosed with atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome, triggered by a virus she had two years earlier. She needed a kidney transplant. The Burrs live in Iowa and looked at medical options in neighboring states before choosing to come to UW Hospital and Clinics. Kaylin received her kidney transplant in 2004.


Now age 16, Kaylin and her family are all giving back to the transplant community by spreading the message of organ donation. Kaylin's older sister, Courtney, started the ball rolling by creating "Green Out Game."


Green is Iowa's Donate Life color, so they turned their high school gym green during a basketball game. The idea quickly caught on and has become an annual tradition for the Burrs, and Kaylin's high school. Kaylin and her friends sell t-shirts, wristbands and green ribbons and hair accessories. Younger kids circulate through the bleachers, handing donor registration forms to the fans. 


"It's so overwhelming to walk into the gym and see hundreds of people in green," said Sheila, "literally the entire gym!"


Because of her illness, Kaylin was not able to participate in sports. Instead, she managed the cross-country team and the basketball team. Organizing the Green Out Game became a way for her to connect her love of sports with her passion for organ donation.


"It's especially exciting to be able to work with my friends and my classmates," said Kaylin, "and share my message with my peers and community."


Now in its fourth year, the Green Out Game is getting bigger and the message of organ and tissue donation is growing stronger. Transplant recipients in neighboring communities are bringing the concept to their own schools and towns, and other families who are in need of transplants or who have been affected by organ donation have reached out to the Burrs to say thank you for the work they are doing.


"By working with other families and communities," said Sheila, "we are working together to share how donation affects both donor families and recipients so people can see that even during the most devastating time of their lives, their child's life can go on through the gift of life to another."