09:39am Tuesday 26 September 2017

Former U-M football player gives gift of life to his dad, encourages organ donation

Be a Wolverine for Life, by donating blood, organs, bone marrow and tissue

Be a Wolverine for Life, by donating blood, organs, bone marrow and tissue

When Dave Knight had the chance to play for Lloyd Carr, he gave it his all to be part of a winning Michigan Wolverine football squad.

But in 2010, 24 years later, he was again called to U-M. This time, he would be the champion, not to win a football game, but instead to help someone he loved continue to play the most important game — the game of life.

Dave Knight became an organ donor, giving one his kidneys to his father Tom.

If it wasn’t for him,” Tom said at a recent Wolverine football practice, “I wouldn’t be here today.”

This fall, Dave Knight is among the Michigan athletes, coaches and physicians encouraging others to make life-saving donations of organs, tissue, blood and bone marrow.

Knight will appear at Michigan Football Coach Brady Hoke’s press conference at noon Monday, Nov. 7, along with Jeffrey Punch, M.D., Director of Transplantation for the University of Michigan Health System. Punch performed the operation that placed Knight’s kidney into his father’s body.

“It wasn’t a decision, it was family first,” said Dave. “I wouldn’t do it any other way.”

The press conference is at Crisler Arena, beginning at noon.

Knight, Coach Hoke and leaders from both the Health System and Michigan athletics hope to spur participation in the annual fall challenges between U-M and Ohio State – the Wolverine-Buckeye Challenge and the Blood Battle. Each school tries to beat the other in collecting blood donations or organ donor sign-ups before their teams meet on the gridiron Nov. 26, this year at the Big House in Ann Arbor. Last year, U-M won both challenges.

Michigan Athletics is participating in several initiatives:

“Be a Hero at the Big House,” is new this year and will be U-M’s largest donor drive ever. The event is scheduled Nov. 16 at Michigan Stadium and will allow participants to get a VIP view from the club level. From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., participants can donate blood, sign up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, be screened for bone marrow donation and tour the club-level seating area. Appointments for blood donation can be made at www.wolverinesforlife.org.

Signing up for the organ donor registry or participating in the Be the Match screening for bone marrow does not require an appointment.

Those who donate at the Big House event will be entered into raffle drawings for various prizes, including tickets to U-M athletic events and autographed souvenirs. Parking will be free at the stadium inside the gates on the concourse.

Those who can’t make the event can still sign up and credit U-M, by going to www.wolverinesforlife.org, and clicking on the button to become a donor. It takes only a few minutes online, and you will receive in the mail a red heart to affix to the front of your driver’s license signifying you as an organ donor. The challenge ends at 11:59 p.m. Nov. 24, in advance of the Nov. 26 football game between Ohio State and U-M.

Bone marrow donors also can register at the Be The Match Registry www.BeTheMatch.org.

Blood Battle: The event is sponsored by the American Red Cross Blood Services Region of Southeastern Michigan, as well as Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity with support from the Washtenaw County American Red Cross Club at U-M, and other student organizations on campus. More than 30 drives around the U-M campus have been scheduled.

Go to www.redcrossblood.org or www.wolverinesforlife.org to register. Use the promotion code “goblue.”

Wolverines for Life video: U-M leaders are encouraging all Michigan residents to consider donating blood and signing the Michigan Organ Donor Registry this fall. Coach Hoke proclaims he is a “Wolverine for Life” in a new video along with Intercollegiate Athletic Director David Brandon; Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and CEO of the U-M Health System; Hall of Famer Football Champion Desmond Howard; Tony Denton, chief operating officer of U-M Hospitals and Health Centers; broadcaster Jim Brandstatter; the entire Michigan Marching Band and others.

Wolverines for Life is a collaboration between the U-M Health System and other University of Michigan groups, schools and departments, along with the American Red Cross, Be the Match/National Marrow Donor Program, Gift of Life Michigan and the Michigan Eye-Bank.

FACTS ABOUT DONATION:
• Every day, 19 people die while waiting for an organ transplant and another 138 people are added to the national waiting list. A single organ and tissue donor can save eight lives and help up to 50 people.
• Every year, 10,000 patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and 70 other life-threatening blood diseases need a marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant but have no donor match in their family.
• Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs a blood donation.
Funding for Wolverines for Life efforts is provided in part by the Gift of Life Foundation.

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