Olympic snowboarder recruits organ donors

    Olympic bronze medal-winning snowboarder Chris Klug visited the Price Center on April 8 to promote organ donation to the UCSD community.

    Tyler Huff
    Guardian

    Klug appeared as part of the event to share his experience as an organ transplant recipient. Three years ago, he received a liver transplant, which became necessary when his condition of Primary Schlerosing Cholangitis worsened. Less than six months after the transplant, Klug won a World Cup race in Italy, and just 18 months after the transplant he won the bronze medal in the Olympic alpine snowboard competition at the Salt Lake City Olympics.

    According to Klug, organ donation allowed him to regain his life and spend time with his family. He said it has given him a new lease on life and he has since made it his goal to share with others the necessity of organ donation.Klug travels through the nation speaking at different events, including a conference with President George W. Bush, in order to spread the message of donation.

    The April 8 visit is one of the first such events on the West Coast and the very first at UCSD, according to Donor Dudes organizer Alex Quick. This is the first year of Donor Dudes, which was formed to promote awareness in the UCSD community of the need for organ, tissue, marrow and blood donations. They hope to have many more such events because the group feels this is an important message to get out to people.

    According to statistics provided by Lifesharing Community Organ and Tissue, more than 80,000 men, women and children are currently waiting for organ donation in the nation.

    Last year, about 22,000 transplants were performed, but this falls short of those in need and so about 17 people a day die waiting for organs. The organs and tissues that are needed and can be donated include: heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, corneas, skin, tendons, bone, heart valves and veins. The donations made by one person can save the lives of more than 50 people, promoters said.

    The event included booths from Lifesharing Community Organ and Tissue Donation, the National Kidney Foundation and the Blood Bank, all of which work to increase awareness about both living and non-living donation. Lifesharing offered students the chance to fill out donor cards and receive a pink sticker to place on their drivers license, which indicates willingness to donate. Klug traded signatures for the placement of the pink dots.

    “”It is so simple and it seems like the right thing to do,”” said student Nick Thaler about signing up as he received his pink dot to put on his driver’s license.

    However, all groups involved stressed the need to not only have the sticker, but also to speak to family and friends so that they are aware of this wish. Without this knowledge, a family member could refuse to donate when consulted after the death.

    Students had various reasons for signing the donation cards, but all agreed that it was a good effort to support.

    “”I had a friend who had it done and it was just something I wanted to do,”” said Mikaela West.

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