Derek Barichello | MyWeb Times
|Photo: Doug Larson|
In 2003, Mike received a life-saving kidney and pancreas transplant from an organ donor. Thanks to the donation, his wife and Streator native Sheri has a husband and his children Levi and Chloe have a father alive today.
Mike was a diabetic since he was five years old and it destroyed his kidney. He received a transplant the day he needed dialysis, and because of the operation, he is no longer diabetic.
Mike waited six weeks for the blessing that changed his life, but there are 110.000 more like Mike waiting for their day. On average, 19 of them die every day before they receive a transplant.
The Greiners know it doesn't have to be that way.
"Statistics don't always hit home,"said Sheri, whose parents Ruth and Larry Louis reside in Streator. "We wanted to share our story."
The family of four packed into its minivan last April and took part in several organ donation registration drives across America over the course of 52 weeks. They visited mostly metropolitan areas and did not accept any donations.
Whether it was morning television or radio shows, talking to newspapers or standing in front of a Department of Motor Vehicles, their message was clear: "give them eight minutes and you could potentially save up to eight lives."
They are still waiting for the final results in 12 to 15 states, but they have helped sign up more than 42,000 registered donors across the country.
The journey was inspired by Mike's donor.
He met with his donor's mother and learned his donor saved five other people with other organ donations — the same day she died tragically. He also learned how important his existence was for her mother's closure.
"Organ donation is about turning something tragic into something good," Mike said. "It doesn't bring anyone back to life, but it helps families with the grieving process to know they made a difference. And our trip is what we can do to say 'thank you.'"
Along their trip, they were reminded repeatedly how critical organ donations are.
Last April, in a Donate for Life Walk in Reno, Nev., the family came across a mother whose 12-year old daughter died waiting for a transplant.
"We had a 12-year old at the time," Sheri said. "It really hit home."
Most of all, the Greiners called their trip an education. They learned registration drives with businesses offering encentives draw more numbers than the DMV. They will be looking to do more work with businesses in the future.
"We've met so many great people and learned and saw so much,"said Mike, whose family lived in Lincoln but is staying in Streator until they find a new place to call home. "People are still using our story to get others registered."
The Greiners encourage people to register to be organ donors at www.lifegoeson.com. The process takes approximately eight minutes and could potentially save up to eight lives.
Want to help?
To register for organ donation, go to www.lifegoeson.com. The process takes approximately eight minutes and can potentially save up to eight lives. The Greiner family hosts its own website www.mystatecares.org. There they are hosting a contest to see which state can sign up the most registered donors.