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Transplant recipients set world record

By Kaitlin Zurdosky, Daily Staff Reporter
Published February 16, 2014

Over 100 heart transplant recipients set the Guinness World Record Friday for the most heart transplant recipients gathered together.

The University of Michigan Health System partnered with Donate Life Coalition of Michigan to assemble the 132 recipients, transplant staff and families at Art Moran Buick GMC in Southfield, Mich. The date was set in observance of American Heart Month and Valentine’s Day.

“It’s a great way for us to share with the world how positive organ donation can be,” said Sherry Johnson, director of the gathering and volunteer at Donate Life Coalition of Michigan.

Recipients, 58 of whom received heart transplants from the University, hailed from many transplant centers. Other facilities present included Cleveland Clinic Transplant Center, Henry Ford Hospital, William Beaumont Hospital, DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Spectrum Health and Cincinnati Transplant Center.

This accomplishment was also a tribute to American Heart Month, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year after being signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

Setting the record required detailed criteria requested by the Guinness World Record organization including medical proof from each recipient and representatives from each center. Official counts were made in a specific manner to ensure that the world record was broken.

“We want to show how important is to get people involved in signing up on the registry and making their wishes known,” Johnson said.

As a representative of Donate Life Coalition of Michigan, Johnson’s goal was to spread organ donor registry awareness as a result of the gathering.

Currently, there are 3,000 people in Michigan waiting for an organ transplant. One organ donor can save the lives of eight people, and with eyes and tissue donations, one person can improve the lives of up to 50 people.

“If we can make people aware of how important it is to sign up to donate, we can do something with these numbers and help these numbers diminish for sure,” Johnson said.

Donor registry is open at giftoflifemichigan.org and wolverinesforlife.org.