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Students organize drive to remember freshman

Nicole Zook | Tuesday, February 1, 2005

To honor the memory of Daniel Kish, a Notre Dame freshman who died Jan. 14 from heart surgery complications, Keough and Stanford Halls and the freshman class council are sponsoring an organ donor sign-up drive from today until Friday.Kish, who received a heart transplant while he was a student at Penn High School in Mishawaka, was on the waiting list for a new heart when he died.Stanford section service commissioner James Boyle said Kish’s death compelled the drive’s organizers to act.”We got the idea to do it last year, and then we really got motivated to get it done when we heard what happened to Daniel Kish,” he said. “He really inspired us.”The drive, which encourages students and their family members to sign an organ donation release card, begins tonight during dinner at both dining halls. It will continue in the dining halls during lunch Wednesday and in LaFortune from 4 p.m. to 7 on Wednesday and 8 p.m. to 11 on Thursday. The Thursday sign-up is accompanied by a showing of John Q, a film about a father whose insurance won’t cover his son’s heart transplant, in the Keough lounge. On Friday, event organizers will have tables set up in each dorm in order to get as much campus-wide student participation as possible.”[Organ donation is] something people don’t think about, and we really want to raise awareness for the issue,” Boyle said. “And when a Notre Dame student hadn’t received a heart transplant, it really puts the issue on the forefront.”Boyle said while many students sign up to be organ donors when they attain their driver’s licenses, most people do not realize that the license signature is not a legally-binding contract in most states. This causes hospitals to contact families of emergency victims, often resulting in a lapse of time during which the organs become unusable. The donor cards that will be handed out during the drive combat this problem.”What this card includes is space for both your signature as well as the signature of your family member. So if something happened to you, especially if you are in another state, they see your personal signature on it as well as your family member’s, and it is more legally binding,” Boyle said.Boyle pointed out that while hospitals in states like Louisiana can defer taking action based on a signed driver’s license, with this card doctors could honor the deceased’s intention to donate even if family members cannot be contacted in the hours immediately following death.According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 18 people die each day because not enough organs are available for transplant. Roughly 84,000 people are on the waiting list for organs at any given time.Boyle said he hopes Notre Dame students will be touched by Kish’s story and decide to donate in his honor. “Less than a third of people are registered to do it. We’re looking to get people who haven’t registered before to register and to talk to their families,” he said. “One organ donor can save up to nine lives.”Boyle also said drive organizers have set a goal of 2,000 cards. He believes the cause will speak for itself in getting students to sign up to donate, especially in the Catholic Notre Dame environment.”I think this drive is important because organ donation is a big issue, it’s something that people don’t think about,” Boyle said. “You can make a big difference in people’s lives. Becoming an organ donor is something you only have to do once.”