Foundation aims to have 80 percent of Utah residents registered as donors
By Hikari Loftus, Deseret News
David R. Nemelka wants to make Utah the first place on Earth to have at least 80 percent of its population as registered organ donors. "When you have 80 percent registered, everybody (who needs an organ) has a reasonable chance of accessing an organ," said Nemelka, founder and leader of The Quest for the Gift of Life Foundation. "We are at 71 percent right now." In order to raise awareness to the need and importance of organ donors, The Quest for the Gift of Life Foundation decided to set a Guinness World Record for, "Most people to sign up as organ donors in eight hours in multiple locations."
Last year, the foundation asked Guinness to consider establishing a new category for humanitarian services. In response, Guinness issued the category for, "Most people to sign up as organ donors in one location in eight hours." The record was set by 562 participants in Thailand and then broken in August, in Springville, with 765. This year, at the request of the foundation, Guinness issued the multiple location category requiring a minimum of 25 people in at least 10 locations. The foundation, in partnership with over 170,000 university students located at all 10 state universities and some private businesses throughout Utah and various other states, set to work on Saturday, Oct, 23, recently proclaimed by Mayor Ralph Becker as "Salt Lake City Organ Donor Awareness Day" and Gov. Gary Herbert as, " Closer than Brothers, Make a Difference Day,"— to set a new Guinness World Record. Volunteers from Westminster College manned a registration station at Liberty Park in Salt Lake, in the rain, gathering people to register as organ donors or re-register to help set the record. Westminster students want to be the first in the world to register more than 3,200 people, which is how many students are enrolled in their school. "This is something little that you can do to give people a chance at life," said Stephanie Woodward, a volunteer from Westminster College. "One person can help over 50 people with their organs." With 400 people on an organ waiting list in Utah, Nemelka says that Utah is the only place on Earth where the number of transplants almost equals the number of people waiting. "This is a heavenly cause. Things happen that you can't explain, but that you are grateful for," said Nemelka. "This is not just making a difference. This is about finding meaning,"