Health classes host organ donor speakers

This article submitted by Molly H. Connors on 9/17/96.

The benefits of Bob and Judy Mueller's organ donation presentation in last Friday's eighth and ninth grade health classes are many.

Ninth grader Steve Gilk, who was responsible for bringing the Muellers to the health classes, will receive his Eagle Scout rank. Paynesville students learned some details about organ donation. And Paynesville health teachers are planning on incorporating organ donation into their classroom curriculum.

Gilk did it for a Boy Scout project. He needed a big project to earn Eagle Scout rank. He became interested when his bus driver was put on a waiting list for a liver last spring.

He found out about LifeSource, a St. Paul based organization that serves Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Through LifeSource, Gilk found out about the Muellers. They lost their son, Kelly, in a bike accident.

During their presentation, the Muellers also emphasized bike safety to the students. Judy said that she had urged her son to wear a helmet, but he never did.

"You always think it's the other person," Bob said. "To the person across the street, you are the other person."

Health teacher Carol Smith has borrowed a video from LifeSource through the Muellers. Smith already incorporates some teachings about organ donation in her tenth grade health classes. She plans to use LifeSource materials and teach more about the subject.

The Muellers stresssed that anyone who wants to be a donor needs to talk to his or her family. A driver's license may indicate that a person wanted to donate his or her organs. However, a doctor needs the next-of-kin's permission to actually use the organs.

Most religions, including the following, support organ donation: Judaism, Greek Orthodox Church, Episcopal Church, Roman Catholic, Unitarian Universalist, Protestantism, Amish, Buddhist Church of America, Mormons, Quakers, Hinduism, Islam and Jehovah's Witnesses.

People from newborns to age 75 can become organ donors. The organs are distributed fairly. All patients waiting for organs have equal access. A computer matches people to organs using their blood type, organ size and illness severity.

Donating an organ is free. There is no cost to the donor's family.

To get more information about organ donation, call LifeSource toll-free at 1-888-5-DONATE.

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