Michigan beating OSU in organ donor challenge
By Sarah Pfleddrer | The Lantern
The Buckeyes have been undefeated against Michigan on the field for the past six years. But if the annual Buckeye-Wolverine Challenge for Life ended today, Ohio State would lose.
The Buckeye-Wolverine Challenge for Life between OSU and the University of Michigan began in 2006. It challenges the schools to register as many new organ, eye and tissue donors as they can before the rivalry commences on the field.
OSU has crushed the Wolverines the past four years, but this year, Michigan is leading by nearly 16,000 new registered donors.
Prospective Ohio donors can register to score a point for the Buckeyes online at lifelineofohio.org/beatmichigan, request a mail-in brochure by calling 800-525-5667, or say "yes" to organ and tissue donation when renewing a license or state I.D., said Rachel Lewis, community outreach director of Lifeline of Ohio.
Coach Jim Tressel said, "More than 105,000 fans fill Ohio Stadium and more than that number of Americans are waiting right now for a life saving organ transplant," according to the Buckeye-Wolverine Challenge for Life website.
More than 109,000 people are on the waiting list for transplantation, and an Ohioan dies waiting once every 48 hours, according to Lifeline of Ohio.
Matt Scroggy, a third-year in the Doctor of Pharmacy Program at OSU, received a kidney transplant from his older sister Sarah in 2009.
Scroggy's wait time of six months was shorter than most, he said, because "not everyone is as fortunate to have a living donor step up for them as I was."
Without the transplant, he would not have been able to continue his education at OSU, participate in the 2010 U.S. Transplant Games in Madison, Wis., or above all, stay alive, Scroggy said.
The U.S. Transplant Games are Olympic-style competitions for transplant recipients and donors. Scroggy won a bronze medal in the 5K road race and 4x400-meter relay and a silver in racquetball and the 800m.
The purpose of the Transplant Games is to "show people organ and tissue donation works," said Ryan Zinn, OSU alumnus and interim director of Technology Licensing and Commercialization.
Zinn received a heart transplant in 1988 during his sophomore year of high school.
"I was told to prepare to live six months or wait for a transplant," Zinn said.
Like Scroggy, Zinn had a shorter wait for his transplant compared to many, as he received a heart from an anonymous donor three weeks after being put on the transplant list. He later discovered his donor was a 20-year-old who was in a local auto accident.
Zinn said he still writes thank-you letters to his donor's family.
Lewis said Zinn is becoming a "famous face" at the U.S. and International Transplant Games.
Zinn specializes in sprinting events and has competed in the competition since 1992, winning more than 35 medals and running in two Olympic Torch Relays. He recently competed at the International Transplant Games in Gold Coast, Australia, and will travel to Sweden next year to compete in the World Transplant Games.
Transplantation "is an opportunity to leave a legacy by saving or enhancing the lives of others," Zinn said. "I'm not gonna take (my organs) with me, so if anyone else can use them, then more power to them."
Scroggy expressed similar sentiments.
"Helping to continue the life of another person after my death by donating my organs is one of the greatest gifts a person can give," he said.
A single donor can save the lives of eight people and enhance the lives of 50 others by donating organs and tissues, according to Lifeline of Ohio.
Zinn and Scroggy both registered as organ, eye and tissue donors when they received their licenses.
Although the Buckeye-Wolverine Challenge for Life tallies only the number of newly registered donors before Nov. 25, Lewis said registered donors can participate by encouraging their peers and family members to register.
The Wolverines are pushing harder than OSU because they are tired of losing, Lewis said. She said she expects more promotional events closer to the big game.
"The bottom line is lives are being saved," she said.
Numbers are updated daily and can be viewed at lifelineofohio.org/beatmichigan