By Ashley Benkarski
KNOXVILLE, TN — Two of the state’s biggest basketball rivals — Vanderbilt University’s Commodores and University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s Vols—went head-to-head on the court Saturday, with the Vols taking the lead over Vandy with a score of 73-64.
But the teams weren’t just battling each other on the paint for a season-ending clencher—they were battling for the admirable cause of organ and tissue donation registration in partnership with Tennessee Donor Services (TDS) titled #BeTheGift Challenge.
The goal is to register 115,000 more organ and tissue donors this year. According to the TDS website African Americans, along with other minorities, are about three times more likely to suffer end-stage kidney disease than their white counterparts.
The need for a diverse donor base is crucial as “critical criteria (including blood type) for donor and recipient matching are more likely to be found among members of the same ethnicity,” the TDS explained, and transplant success rates increase when organs are matched between members of the same ethnic/racial group.
Vols Associate Athletics Director Tom Satkowiak knows just how important the #BeTheGift challenge is; Satkowiak is a Vanderbilt University Medical Center liver transplant recipient.
Josiah-Jordan James, UT Vols guard and team captain, recently completed a project on organ donation inspired by Satkowiak.
“Right now, we need your help off the court,” James said in a video promo ahead of the rivals’ game. “Every day 20 people die waiting for an organ transplant. You can change that.”
To register as an organ or tissue donor visit BeTheGiftToday.com.