WKU competes in organ donor registration challenge

Shantel-Ann Pettway

WKU is gearing up for a rivalry with the University of Pikeville and participants could potentially save a life. 

Student organizations around campus, such as the WKU Red Wave and the WKU chapter of the Kentucky Public Health Association, are encouraging WKU students, faculty and staff to participate in a friendly competition against UPIKE to see who can get the most people register as organ donors. 

The challenge, sponsored by Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, or KODA, began on Oct. 15 and will end Nov. 8. 

 The winner of the challenge will be announced at a home exhibition basketball game against UPIKE on Nov. 10. 

Stacey Forsythe, assistant to the  dean of the College of Health and Human Services, said the main goal is to inform students about the cause and get them registered.

Jenny Jones, director of Education for KODA, came to WKU’s campus earlier this month and gave multiple student groups training sessions so they would be able to set up registration booths during Homecoming. 

“Firstly, I told students that over 123,000 people are on a waiting list to receive an organ,” Jones said. 

Explaining the importance of the cause was a key part of the training. 

“I want these students to encourage others and be connected to the cause,” she said. 

The head coach of the UPIKE men’s basketball team, Kelly Wells, is a two-time kidney recipient. 

Wells received his first transplant from his wife and his second transplant from his brother-in-law. 

“There are thousands of people on wait lists that can be addressed by organ and tissue donations,” said Wells. 

While students can register at registration tables, they can also register online to participate in the challenge. 

Those who register online at donatelifeky.org can identify on behalf of UPIKE or WKU in the competition.

Registration is also open year-round outside of this challenge. 

Jones said that even though UPIKE’s student body is smaller, they have something different going for them. 

“They are personally connected to this challenge,” Jones said.

Wells feels indebted to stress the importance of making informed decisions, not only to his university, but to everyone he encounters.

“My transplants have given me an opportunity to live as normal a life as possible,” he said. “I am thankful beyond words for my donors and feel it is important to inform and give back.”