Red Shoe Run for Organ Donor Awareness

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-117692444630316.jpg’, ‘Photo by Rachel Fisher’, ‘More than 200 people participated April 14 in the fourth annual Red Shoe Run at Rock Valley College. The Red Shoe Run is one of the only fund-raisers the Rock River Valley Blood Center holds each year.‘);

Saturday morning, 8 a.m. Cool, still, quiet, a perfect morning for a run. More than 200 people came to participate in the fourth annual Red Shoe Run at Rock Valley College. Those who did not want to run, walked in the non-competitive portion of the event. The Red Shoe Run is one of the only fund-raisers the Rock River Valley Blood Center holds each year, and the proceeds cover the cost of typing for marrow transplants.

Normally a $65 procedure, the Blood Center thought the best way to ensure donation was to take one possible hurdle out of the equation. Julie Tilbury of the RRVBC explains how well this idea paid off: “Every dollar that we raise from the run goes towards tissue typing, and since we have started, not one person has had to pay for the procedure.” The blood center still needs your support. Each year, countless people die from opportunities missed by possible lifesaving donors. Here are a few facts about donation you may not know.

There are two kinds of organ donation—the more well-known donation after death, and a living donation. If you have signed the back of your driver’s license, THIS IS NOT ENOUGH. The law in Illinois has changed, and the signature (even with witnesses) is no longer valid. The new system is called first-person consent, and applies to anyone age 18 and older in the state. When this new registry started, it began with no names in it; they were not carried over from the old registry. Go to or call 888-307-3668 to register. All you need is your driver’s license or state ID and 30 seconds. It’s very simple, and it’s all you need. This will only sign you up for donation upon your passing, and it is your decision that a family member cannot override.

Living donations can help anyone anytime and do not always require surgery. Blood and bone marrow are the two main types of living donations. Harvesting either part is easy, and can be done on appointment basis at the Rock River Valley Blood Center. The procedure for screening marrow is much like a DNA test, done with a cheek swab. Marrow is the liquid center of your bones and regenerates in healthy individuals in a matter of weeks.

There are a few misconceptions the folks at the Blood Center and the Red Shoe Run would like cleared up. Doctors who work for the transplant team are not called until death is imminent and no more can be done. They are not butchers who look to rip out the first viable organ they find. There is a complicated screening process for both donors and recipients. Recipients are chosen based on a number of criteria; tissue type, size of organ, necessity, length of waiting time, and proximity to donor.

The call for donation extends to everyone. People of all different ethnic groups need to donate, especially blood. It is easier to find matching blood types within similar ethnic groups. For example, rare blood traits are more prevalent among African-Americans. The more African-Americans who donate, the easier it is to help someone with a rare disorder in need.

Any way that you can help could save a life. Thanks to Charles Smith of the Red Shoe Run, Julie Tilbury of the Rock River Valley Blood Center, and all those who participated Saturday. The top five finishers are: Carl Nuccio (17:07.89), Andrew Hepburn (17:19.29), Justin Schroeder (17:38.14), Jessica Langford (17:47.40), and Joshua Mock (17:54.85). All this information, including finishing times for all runners and more, is available on the Rock River Valley Blood Center web site,

from the April 18-24, 2007, issue

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