CADL Announces Michigan Donor Registry Campaign

In 2011, the University of Michigan’s Taubman Health Science Library spearheaded an effort called Michigan Libraries for Life, encouraging residents to consider organ donation. The campaign reached over 1,500 visitors and registered 414 new organ donors. That’s significant in a state where only 34% of adults are registered, far below the 43% national average.

Capital Area District Libraries is proud to join this year’s campaign to spread the word about this critical issue. On Tuesday, Oct. 2 and Wednesday, Oct. 3, people can come to any of these CADL branches to learn more or to sign up with the Michigan Organ Donor Registry:

While it takes only a few seconds to register, the impact can be enormous. Just ask certain members of the Downtown Lansing Library staff, for whom the subject of organ donation is very personal.

Anne Rau, a CADL Reference Librarian and blogger, recalls how her best friend began battling polycystic kidney disease ten years ago. Willing to be a donor, Anne was heartbroken to learn that she wasn’t the right blood type. Then she heard about a special program offered at U of M. “You give up your kidney to someone in their database who does match you,” she explains, “and they find a kidney from someone else for your loved one. They call it the ‘Paired Kidney’ program. I call it ‘Let’s Make a Deal with Kidneys!'”

In the end her friend got a kidney without the program, but Anne decided to go ahead and donate anyway. Her surgery took place in August 2011. “It was an easy decision because I have seen firsthand how devastating kidney disease is,” she says. “The thought of prolonging someone’s life and getting them off dialysis was very inspiring. It wasn’t important for me to meet the person or know who it was.”

Circulation Clerk Larissa Williams was already a registered donor, having signed up when she got her first driver’s license. After her father became ill with kidney disease, she did some research. “I found out he would have to wait four years to receive a cadaver kidney,” she says. “Dialysis is very hard on the body, plus it was heartbreaking to see his quality of life decline. So when he went into complete renal failure, I called my parents and offered mine.”

Kiersten Hedke, also a Circulation Clerk, found herself on the other side of the donor/recipient relationship. She was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease in 1997. “They said I had 27% function,” Hedke explains. “The specialist put me on the list for a donation.” But by August of 2002, with no donor in sight and her kidney function down to 4 percent, she started periteneal dialysis.

That’s when Theresa, a friend of Kiersten’s since childhood, realized that non-family members can sometimes be a good match. She agreed to be tested, and when the results came back positive, she had only one thing to say: “Let’s do this.”

Anne, Larissa and Theresa have all enjoyed good health since their donations. “Three months after surgery I was back at the gym,” Larissa reports. “I play softball and am in a bowling league. My diet has not changed and I don’t take any medications.”

CADL Downtown Lansing employees Anne Rau and Kiersten Hedke have a personal stake in the library’s efforts to promote organ donor registration.

One thing that has changed is their passion for sharing information about the urgent need for donors. Anne now writes a blog called Adventures of a Kidney Donor. “I hear from donors and recipients from all over the world,” she says. “I am not a medical professional but many people like to know about the psychology of being a living donor. Although that’s not for everyone, registering to give after you pass on is a wonderful thing and easy to do.”

Along with a dedicated team of friends and family, Kiersten participates in the National Kidney Foundation’s annual Kidney Walk, helping raise money and awareness. “I want people to know that their donation is the difference between life and death, period! I feel so blessed every day to have been given another lease on life.”

For more information, visit a participating CADL branch during the campaign or one of these sites:

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