Thursday, March 20, 2008

'Rolling billboards' try to boost
organ-donor awareness

Alexis McMillianAlexis McMillian's face is going up on the side of a tractor-trailer rig, and it's for a good cause.

From the News-Record in North Carolina:

McMillian, who lives in Greensboro, underwent a kidney transplant in 2006 after her kidneys failed. Since then, she has worked to educate the public on the need for organ donors.

As part of that work, she agreed to be depicted on a vinyl film wrap applied to a truck trailer. The wrap includes information touting the need for more people to become organ and tissue donors. The truck will display the wrap as it goes on its regular runs across the state.

The need for donors is critical. Some 2,928 North Carolinians remained on a waiting list for an organ transplant as of Friday. In 2007, 174 North Carolinians died waiting for a transplant.

The wraps are being created by the Rotary Club of Clemmons' "Have a Heart, Give a Part" campaign, using $5,000 of the club's money and a $50,000 grant from the state.

The group negotiated with trucking companies and independent truckers to find trucks on which to place the wraps. The first two wraps were unveiled Wednesday in Winston-Salem. One is on a truck operated by Triangle Warehouse and Distribution Services, the other on a Republic Waste Services truck.

Vomela, a High Point company, printed the wraps, which are guaranteed to last five years and should last seven to eight, said Rotary Club spokesman Ken Burkel.

The Rotary Club hopes to use the rest of the money to put 15 to 18 trucks on the road that will serve as rolling billboards for organ donation. It hopes other Rotary clubs in the state will join the project, raising the number of trucks to about 50.

The group is targeting trucks that operate exclusively in North Carolina.

Also, the trailers must have flat sides for the wrap to be applied.

"The trailers are not an end, but only a means to an end," Burkel said. "The end is zero deaths for lack of organs. ... There's not a shortage of organs. There's a shortage of donors."

People can register to become organ donors when they renew their driver's licenses. Previously, the heart icon on a person's license was not legally binding, but a state law that took effect in October makes the donor indication on the license a legally binding document.

People also can visit the N.C. Coalition on Donation online to download an organ-donor card. A way to register online is expected to become operational later this year.

McMillian began volunteering to help with organ-donation education efforts after her transplant. Working through a volunteer group affiliated with Carolina Donor Services, the federally designated organ-procurement agency for this area, she has spoken to schools, health fairs and religious and civic groups.

"It's important to get the information out to the public so they can be educated and make an informed decision on being an organ donor," she said.

Even if it means putting her face on the side of a truck.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

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