The award-winning organ, eye, and tissue donor registration program Michigan Libraries for Life (ML4L) will celebrate its 10th anniversary Oct. 10-16.
The initiative, currently funded by a community grant from Gift of Life Foundation, has grown substantially since it launched at the University of Michigan (U-M) Library. Over the years, the program secured interest beyond the university's libraries and crossed over to public libraries across the state.
"The response we've received has been just amazing. So far, we've got over 100 libraries of all sorts on board this year. And since we started, we've gotten about 4,000 people to sign up as donors," says Kate Saylor, a U-M informationist and the initiative's organizer.
Saylor says she imagines the program's reach is probably wider than organizers have been able to document, because many people likely make their decision to join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry at a later date.
"We've talked to tens of thousands of people. Even if they aren't signing up on the spot, who knows? They could be going home and maybe making the decision after they talk to their families," she says.
There is still time for libraries to sign up to participate in this year's drive. Touting the program as an easy way for libraries to give back to the community, Saylor stresses that participants can run a table for the entire seven days of the drive or even just a few hours for one day.
"It is also an easy way for individuals to make a difference for others. There are so many people on the waiting list that there is no way that everyone is going to get what they are going to need," Saylor says. "And the percentage of people who die in the very precise way that can make an organ donation happen is so low. We need everyone on the registry, because it's such a rare thing for all the stars to align."
Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo provided by ML4L participants.