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Organ Donation supporters tell their stories and push for new donation legislation

Posted at 10:43 PM, Jun 12, 2024
  • Gift to Life Michigan and other organ donation supporters met at the capitol steps.
  • Video shows organ donation supporters telling me their stories and their push for new donation legislation for high schoolers.

It was an emotional day at the capitol steps as Donors, recipients and even those waiting for an organ transplant met here to tell me their stories and spread awareness.
"Justin had a conversation with his dad. He was adamant that he wanted to make sure that he was a registered organ donor and Justin made that happen."

Jill Soave and Clay Schilling are Justin Schilling's mom and brother. Justin was one of four students killed in the Oxford School Shooting.


Mom of Oxford high school shooting victim speaks on her son's organ donation impact

“Justin’s presence was infectious. Always laughing and having fun,” Soave said.

Justin was 17 when he was shot at Oxford High School on November 30, 2021. A day later, he was declared brain-dead.

“But miraculously he was still able to donate his organs.”

Justin's legacy lives on. His donations saved six lives.

“Justin went on to save six lives. His liver, two kidneys, lung, and heart valves are helping grateful recipients today,” Soave said.

On Wednesday, more than 400 donors, recipients and those still waiting met on the capitol steps in support of organ, eye, and tissue donation.

Representative Felicia Brabec and state Senator Kevin Daley joined supporters to share their stories and to push for House Bill 5174.

The bill, named the High School Organ Education Bill, would create programming about organ donation and transplantation available to students starting in 9th grade.

Gift of Life President and CEO Dorris Dils says that the new legislation can bring attention to teens when they get their licenses.

"Half the teens register compared to other states. We don't believe that they are less gracious," Dils said. "We believe that they don't have all of the information they need in order to answer that question.”

Even without legislation, it's still important to bring action to the cause.

"If this program wasn't put in place, my life would have ended nine years ago."

Michael Love who is a two-time double lung transplant recipient says being here is his way to give back.

Leslie Zink is a donor in respect of her mother, who was a liver transplant recipient.

"I have been an organ donor ever since then and my whole family is organ donors. I just have to give back what they gave us."

The goal of the legislation is to grow Michigan's organ donor registry and implement similar programs that exist in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

Jill Soave has one last call to action for the teens of Mid-Michigan.

"I would encourage any young people moved by Justin's story to learn more about becoming a donor," Soave said.

The bill has been referred to the committee for discussion.

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