Organ transplant advocate visits Idaho to promote
donating organs as life-making decision
'Alive because of someone else's choice'
ITD promotes the Donate Life organ donation message through options available on drivers license applications.. Saving lives is key to ITD's mission on the highways. Saving lives elsewhere just makes sense.
With ITD's headquarters as the backdrop on Monday afternoon (June 28), the story of Mike Greiner and his quest unfolds:
Seven years ago Greiner couldn't go down a flight of stairs at his home in Lincoln, Ill., without stopping to rest. His kidneys and pancreas were stopping, too.
At the same time, unbeknownst to Greiner, a circulatory disorder called arteriovenous malformation was running roughshod over 21-year-old Annie Fleming in a small Wisconsin town.
Fleming made the choice to be an organ donor. That's where their lives intersect. Greiner was the recipient not only of new organs, but new life.
"Thank you doesn't suffice," said an emotional Greiner. "I'm alive because of someone else's choice."
In 2004, Mike and wife Sheri started planning the "organ donation evangelism" tour. They began saving and planning, and when the house in Lincoln sold, they hit the road.
Now, the Greiner family travels the U.S. looking to pay it forward by signing up new organ donors in each state they visit. The couple, along with children Levi and Chloe, stopped at ITD to lend a voice to the cause and to issue a challenge to sign up organ donors.
Through donated organs — eyes and tissue — eight different people could be touched by one person's decision to be an organ donor. The decision to be an organ donor can touch or enhance the lives of 50 people.
The potential is staggering, said Greiner. As an example, he points to California, where the DMV offices signed up an additional 40,000 organ donors during the week the Greiners were there. "Times each one by eight, then by 50 - that's potentially over 2 million lives impacted!"
Nationally, there are about 108,000 people awaiting a life-saving organ transplant. In Idaho, the number is about 450, according to Alex McDonald, public relations director for Intermountain Donor Services. "We work closely with the drivers license division in each state to help people register as organ donors," McDonald said.
McDonald added that the quickest way to become an organ donor is to go through the www.yesidaho.org website, or if your drivers license needs to be renewed, organ donation also can be selected at the local DMV office.