Gift of Life Michigan hosts state-wide campus challenge to register most organ donors

GVL / Courtesy - Hadley Knudsen
Gift of Life Campus Challenge

Hadley Knudsen

GVL / Courtesy – Hadley Knudsen Gift of Life Campus Challenge

Meghan McBrady

As part of a state-wide competition, universities from across Michigan, including Grand Valley State University, are competing to register the most organ donors as part of the Gift of Life Michigan Campus Challenge from Wednesday, Jan. 18, to Wednesday, Feb. 22.

Established in 1971, the Gift of Life Michigan is a non-profit organization that recovers hundreds of organs every year to be used for sick or seriously injured individuals. The foundation also partners with the Michigan Secretary of State to oversee the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.

“A campus competition is a great way to get young people onto the registry and inform them about what they’re doing and what the cause is for and to also eliminate stigmas,” said Hadley Knudsen, the campus representative for the Gift of Life Michigan Campus Challenge at GVSU.

According to the Gift of Life Michigan website, more than 3,500 Michigan residents are waiting for transplants, and more than 21,633 individuals joined the Michigan Organ Donor Registry in January 2017.

While joining the Michigan Organ Donor Registry indicates consent for all healthy organs and tissues to be donated, individuals can indicate on separate documents which specific organs and/or tissues are to be donated.

Alyssa Wrubel, the communications director for GVSU’s Student Nurses’ Association (SNA), said the campus-wide challenge provides students, faculty and staff the opportunity to learn more about what it means to be a registered organ donor.

Once a person passes on, she said, there is a national list by state for registered donors.

She said any organs, such as lungs, kidneys and eyes, could be donated.

“There is people that have donated hearts, and the parent of the child that was lost, or that person that was lost, can possibly listen to that heartbeat and see that their organs are being used to save other lives,” Wrubel said.

Having previously tabled at the Kirkhof Center to register GVSU community members for the campus challenge, Wrubel said she has noted there is a stigma surrounding registering as an organ donor.

Primarily, she said, the stigma is due to parents not wanting their children to register and also to individuals thinking doctors or health professionals will purposely not save their lives in order to harvest their organs.

“This is about if you pass on in a car accident or if something happens to you, they can use your organs to help save another person’s life,” Wrubel said.

With the challenge, Knudsen said, the only problem for the GVSU team is the students they have met at tabling and through the promotion of the event are already registered organ and tissue donors.

Knudsen, who is also the volunteer director for the SNA, said being part of the campus challenge and getting college students to register is a great way to help save lives, no matter the trophy.

“The competition (is) a great incentive if we were to win as a college campus,” Knudsen said. “I think it would be awesome putting us out there, kind of realizing that we care about other individuals in society and will want to contribute in some way, like promoting (the) organ donor registration, but I’m just happy to get those donors.”

For more information about the Gift of Life Michigan Campus Challenge at GVSU, visit

To register to become an organ and tissue donor and be part of the campus challenge, visit