Jackie Hunt, Miss Utah 2001, and Judy Blain, a Utah mother who is a donor and a recipient have something in common. They are both on the promotional trail through Utah sharing the importance of organ donation and transplantation and how it has been a miracle in the lives of many Utah families. Both of the women were recent guests at the Utah Press Association Convention and both are passionate with the cause.
Utah is the first area in the nation to receive a $1.60 million grant over three years from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Resources to promote organ and tissue donation through a comprehensive statewide registry. The Utah Donor Registry, launched with a sustained, aggressive public education campaign, aims to boost organ donation rates and save lives in Utah.
Despite the fact that over 90% of the population supports donation, consent rates for organ donors is approximately 65 percent and only 30 percentfor tissue donors. According to Miss Utah over 79,000 people nationwide and 260 Utahns are currently waiting for a life saving transplant.
"The challenge is the huge loss of lives annually because a needed organ was not available and that must change," explained Hunt, who is donating many hours throughout Utah to help educate the public about this important issue.
She stated that "every Utah community has one or more organ transplant recipient or donor family and I want to encourage them to share their experience to help educate their community about the importance of organ donation." Being a spokesperson for the Utah Coalition on Organ, Eye, and Tissue Donation, "I have had the opportunity to speak to schools, boys and girls clubs, rotarians, business meetings, city councils, and others, " said Hunt
"Just as we experienced with the Salt Lake Olympics, we can achieve great success by all joining together to spread this very important message and Utah will again be in the limelight and "lead the way", being a model for other states to follow," she concluded.
The new State of Utah On-line donor registry kickoff is set for April 16 at the State Capital when Governor Michael Leavitt will be the first to sign up. Governor Leavitt will encourage all Utahn's to say "Yes to donation."
Additional information is available on line by logging on to YesUtah.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 801-562-1575.