Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White visited Joliet Junior College on Friday, April 11¬†to promote organ and tissue donor registration among Illinois residents, particularly college students, in honor of April being National Donate Life Month.
White is teaming up with community colleges statewide for the ‚ÄúBe a Hero‚ÄĚ public awareness campaign, offering students the opportunity to create their own campaigns and earn community service hours while promoting the organ/tissue donor registry.
JJC student volunteers who staffed an information table on Friday to help promote the program were able to sign up more than 40 people as organ and tissue donors.
While at JJC, White visited with several students and encouraged them to¬†become donors, and thanked those who already were. He also held a press conference in which he spoke passionately about the need for donors, and the¬†more than 5,000 people in Illinois on the waiting list to receive an organ or tissue transplant.
“You may not have a need¬†today, you may not have a need¬†tomorrow, but at some point in your lifetime, you or someone you may know will have a need, and we just hope that when that moment arises, that there will be an adequate supply of organs available,” he said.
White also said that one person could save 25 lives when they sign up to be a donor.
Kim Koning, a JJC nursing student and liver transplant recipient, also spoke at event, sharing her story of several serious illnesses that eventually led to the need for a new liver. In 2012, she¬†was finally able to receive the life-saving procedure she needed when a donor liver proved to be a match.
“I am so grateful people [register to be organ/tissue donors],” she said. “I’m mostly thankful ¬†for my donor – I will forever be grateful to that person.”
Koning went on to share that she is currently pursuing a degree in nursing so that someday she can give back and help others who are waiting for a transplant.
Local¬†elected officials¬†who attended the event included Joliet Mayor Tom Giarrante¬† and Joliet City Councilman Bob O’Dekirk, who came to show their support for¬†Secretary White’s campaign.
Additionally, White presented JJC President Dr. Deb Daniels with a special plaque, thanking JJC for hosting the special event and¬†supporting the campaign’s efforts to boost donor registration.
Illinoisans can register with the Secretary of State Organ/Tissue Donor Program at LifeGoesOn.com, 1-800-210-2106 or by visiting their local Driver Services facility.