DePauw students hope to raise awareness on organ donation

Thursday, January 19, 2012

As many students are immersed in winter term at DePauw University, sophomore Jack Burgeson and junior Matt Kukurugya are focusing their efforts on trying to educate the community about organ donation.

In an effort to raise awareness about the topic of organ donation the pair decided to start an official group, the DePauw Donors, which is recognized by the DePauw student government as well as the Indiana Procurement Organization.

"There are over 100,000 people who need organs," explained Burgeson. "Seven of those people are in Putnam County."

The group started in the fall after the two DePauw swimmers got the idea from swim coach Adam Cohen.

After researching the cause, they found only 42 percent of Americans are registered as organ donors and decided they wanted to help make a difference as there are little to no groups focused on organ donation in or around Putnam County.

"It was a snowball effect," said Kukurugya of forming the group. "We dipped our toes in and started putting a team together."

Currently, the group has a total of seven members. Since forming, they have promoted the project at every greek house on DePauw's campus as well as the freshman activity fair.

"We were both looking for a way to get more involved," said Kukurugya. "We realized it'd be a great cause as students to raise awareness for."

The two stress that their goal is to raise awareness about the topic in hopes of more people signing up for organ donation. They are not looking for an additional funding. They are simply just trying to spread the word.

Currently, there are nearly 112,657 patients nationwide waiting on the organ donor list. In the last year, 21,354 organ transplants were performed involving 10,558 organ donors in 2011.

"Our goal is to just start a conversation about organ donation," said Burgeson. "We're hoping the topic of organ donation will become more approachable.

"We are looking for events," said Burgeson. "We're hoping to get involved with Greencastle High School."

The two are also hoping to begin a letter writing campaign. It is their goal for Indiana to create an "opt-out" system rather than an "opt-in". Thus, people would have to sign up to be taken off the organ donor list rather than signing up for it.

As, the group is focusing most of its attention throughout the month of January Kukurugya and Burgeson are hoping to meet with religious leaders around the county to spread the word to congregations as well as any other interested parties.

For more information on DePauw Donors, contact

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  • Your story about the DePauw Donors and Organ Donation highlighted the tragic shortage of human organs for transplant operations.

    There are now over 112,000 people on the National Transplant Waiting List, with over 50% of these people dying before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year.

    There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- give donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

    Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. Everyone who is willing to receive should be willing to give.

    Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at or by calling

    1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has over 14,900 members as of this writing, including 542 members in Indiana.

    Please contact me - Dave Undis, Executive Director of LifeSharers - if your readers would like to learn more about our innovative approach to increasing the number of organ donors. I can arrange interviews with some of our local members if you're interested. My email address is My phone number is 615-351-8622.

    -- Posted by LIFESHARERS on Thu, Jan 19, 2012, at 11:59 AM
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