By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Saturday, December 29 was a memorable day for many students and fans of the University of Louisville.
Not only did the Cardinals win the ballgame over the University of Kentucky Wildcats, they also improved their ranking in the annual Gift of Life donor challenge.
For the past 12 years, the two colleges have competed in the Gift of Life Challenge, which pits the two schools in signing up new organ and tissue donors. Prior to the Dec. 29 game, UK lead the contest by 9 to 2.
Laurel County Circuit Clerk Roger Schott was on hand to present the trophy. The Gift of Life is sponsored through the Kentucky Circuit Clerks’ offices and allows individuals interested in becoming an organ or tissue donor to do so by signing the back of their driver’s license or photo ID.
Schott said donors are continuing to increase across the state, with nearly 1.3 million — or 25 percent — of the state’s population signing up.
“There is more than 15,000 people signed up in Laurel County,” Schott said.
Although the Trust for Life program makes its public appeal during the month of April each year, persons who wish to sign up on the tissue and organ donor program may do so when they renew their picture identification or driver's license throughout the year.
The Gift of Life Challenge began in 2001 as a means to build public awareness for the need for organ and tissue donors. By working through the state’s two largest universities, thousands of persons have signed up for the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry. As the number of donors grows, so will the number of lives saved through the program.
Even with more than 1.27 million Kentuckians as registered donors, that number only represents 38 percent of the state’s population.
The “Gift of Life” Challenge is a project of the Donate Life Kentucky Coalition that includes Jewish Hospital, University of Kentucky Transplant Center, UK Lions Eye Bank, University of Louisville Lions Eye Bank, Kidney Health Alliance of Kentucky, Kentucky Circuit Clerks’ Trust for Life, Central Kentucky Blood Center, Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, LifeCenter Organ Donor Network, National Kidney Foundation and the American Red Cross.
For more information about the Trust for Life, visit their website at www.trustforlife.org.