Weather Updates

Secretary of State White: Organ donors from ethnic groups needed most

Grayslake  Thursday  10/18/12   

Jan Echen signs up College Lake County student Markise JasksWaukegan following Thursday's organ/tissue

Grayslake Thursday, 10/18/12 Jan Echen signs up College of Lake County student, Markise Jaskson, of Waukegan following Thursday's organ/tissue donation event at the college. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media

storyidforme: 38575124
tmspicid: 14237290
fileheaderid: 6521571

In Illinois, one of the country’s largest organ donor registries, 57 percent of the people eligible to register have said “yes” to being a donor. Since 2007, nearly six million have registered in Illinois. You can register if you are 18 years old or older. Family consent is still required for those under 18.

In Lake County, 53.43 percent of those eligible have registered with the Illinois Organ/Tissue Donor Registry.

To register go to, call 1-800-210-2106 or visit a driver’s license facility. If you have registered you will see a small red graphic of the state of Illinois with the word “Donor” inside on the front of the driver’s license.

Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: December 18, 2012 2:06AM

GRAYSLAKE — Secretary of State Jesse White continued his push to sign up more young people on college campuses as organ donors Thursday at the College of Lake County, urging more African Americans and Hispanics to join the effort.

White said the need for kidney transplants is greatest because unlike other organs, transplants of kidneys work best when the kidney and the donor are from the same ethnic group. “The quality of the transplant is better,” he said.

While both of those ethnic groups donate in proportion to their population, there are more people from those two ethnic groups that are need of kidney transplants.

“We need more participation from African Americans and Hispanics. Most organs today come from my Caucasian brothers and sisters,” said White. “We just need (them) to step up to the plate. Do what is right and do what is just.”

White came to the college after an invitation from the Black Student Union, Latino Alliance and the Student Government Association because the students wanted to increase the number of registered donors.

In Illinois, there are 5,000 people on the donor waiting list and about 300 people die each year without receiving an organ transplant.

“One person can provide life or improve the quality of life to 25 individuals” when they are a donor, he said. He recalled how one of his famous Jesse White Tumblers, Willie Williams III, was shot outside the Ford City Theater while trying to break up a fight. “Six of his organs were used,” he said.

He said some people believe ridiculous rumors such as doctors will let you die so they can take your organ and sell them. “You can’t sell organs,” White said.

Another is a rich person will get one before anyone else. “That, too, will not take place,” he said. “And when it comes time to be viewed, morticians can restore the body to the point that no one would know if you gave organs or not.”

CLC students and teachers also learned for the first time that one of their own had been part of the organ donor equation. Diane Rarick, CLC senior marketing and communications analyst for the college, went public for the first time about her brother Dean Brown, 27, who stunned family members when he took his own life in the park across the street from her family’s home in Grand Rapids, Iowa, leaving behind a wife and 2-year-old daughter.

“On July 28, 1994, my brother Dean put a .22 rifle to his head and shot himself,” she said. While he had some self-esteem problems, no one thought he would take his life.

“In the horrible hours at the hospital, when my family realized that nothing could be done to save his life, hospital staff encouraged my parents and sister-in-law to donate Dean’s organs and tissues. In an extremely difficult and emotional situation, they made the brave choice to say yes,” Rarick said.

“Within hours and days of Dean’s death, our family’s tragic loss turned into a gift of life for five or more families whose loved ones suffered from diabetes, lung disease, heart ailments, kidney failure and blindness,” she said.

She recalled how her family received heart-felt letters of gratitude from the families who tried to express thankfulness and sympathy at the same time.”I want you to know how Bruce, our two children and I grieve for your loss in the amazement and wonder of this new chance of life,” said the wife of a man who received her brother’s lungs.

“Debbie Ramsey of Zion, a kidney recipient 28 years ago, said she was able to adopt two girls. “It does work and it does change lives,” she said.

One of the first to sign up was Markise Jackson, 19, of Waukegan. “I signed up right away. I’m willing to help someone else,” he said.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.