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'Michigan Libraries for Life' organ donation drive kicks off across state, celebrates 10th anniversary

By Lynne Raughley

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ANN ARBOR—The nationally acclaimed “Michigan Libraries for Life” program, which  is expanding its statewide participation for the 10th consecutive year, will kick off Thursday, Oct. 10.

The partnership, led by the University of Michigan’s Taubman Health Sciences Library and Gift of Life Michigan, was recognized by Donate Life America in 2015 as the top organ, tissue and eye donation promotional activity in the country. And since 2014, it has been funded by the Gift of Life Foundation to reach an even greater number of Michigan residents this year.

This seven-day campaign has involved more than 150 libraries across the state, each inspiring local residents to join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, and educating them on the facts of organ, tissue and eye donation. The libraries involved in the campaign are located throughout Michigan, from Houghton to Dearborn and from South Haven to Detroit. Volunteers and library staff will answer questions and help library users sign up on the Donor Registry.

The Michigan Libraries for Life campaign began in 2010 at U-M’s Taubman Health Sciences Library and has expanded to include academic, hospital and public libraries. Each library determines its own donor drive schedule within the designated week and arranges for volunteers to staff an information table. 

Many of the participating libraries will display the “Memories from Michigan” donor family quilts, which tell the stories of organ, tissue and eye donors through panels that have been personalized by their families.

Since its inception, Michigan Libraries For Life has inspired more than 4,300 people to sign up as donors. 

“This program is successful because libraries are a trusted source for information, and they make it very easy to join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry,” said Kate Saylor, informationist at the Taubman Health Sciences Library and lead organizer of the event. “People in every community can participate, thanks to local libraries everywhere.”

Dorrie Dils, CEO of Gift of Life Michigan, said that libraries have been great partners in saving and healing lives. 

“They’ve been enthusiastically educating the public on the facts of organ, tissue and eye donation for the past nine years,” she said. “Thanks to this strong partnership, Michigan Libraries for Life gives hope to (nearly 3,000) Michigan patients waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.”

At its 2015 annual meeting, Donate Life America, a national not-for-profit membership alliance of organ, tissue and eye donation and transplant organizations, presented the Michigan Libraries For Life with the Pinnacle Award in the Affinity category, and the Platinum award for best overall program. The Pinnacle Awards recognize top programs from across the country for successfully inspiring more people to register as organ, eye and tissue donors and establishing donation as a cultural norm.

Additional information and a state map showing all the participating libraries are available at Michigan residents who join the state’s donor registry will receive a red heart donor symbol for the front of their driver’s license or state ID card. Nonresidents can also join the donor registry. Sign up at a participating library or any Secretary of State office, at or by calling 866-500-5801.

Michigan Libraries For Life donor drive dates are Thursday, Oct. 10, to Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019.


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