Gift of Life Michigan gala honors those spreading message of organ donation

Thousands of Michigan residents are waiting for an organ transplant - and those going above and beyond to make that happen were recognized Friday for their dedication.

"It’s literally a matter of life and death - right now in Michigan there’s 2,400 people who are waiting for an organ transplant," said Dorrie Dils, Gift of Life Michigan.

Friday night the organization shined a light on something that so many of us rarely think about - organ and tissue donation.

Hundreds gathered in Dearborn for the Gift of Life Michigan Champions Gala - honoring those making a difference.

FOX 2’s Jessica Dupnak was recognized for raising awareness about organ donation through storytelling. Last year she shared the story of Justin Shilling — an Oxford High School shooting victim and an organ donor.

His family worked with Gift of Life to ensure their tragedy would give life to others.

Armond Baskin was recognized for his extraordinary volunteer efforts.

"The more people educate themselves the more they see it’s not just about a kidney or heart, it’s tissue, it’s eyes, it’s so many different things and so many different ways to help with the gift of the life so this means a lot," he said.

Diagnosed with kidney failure in 2019, Armond has been waiting for a kidney ever since.

"The reality is we can’t take our organs with us and there’s no real reason not to be a registered organ donor," said Rachel Kuntzsch, honoree.

Not only is Rachel Kuntzsch a registered organ donor, she’s also an organ recipient - receiving a new heart in 2018 after being diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Within a year she was living a completely normal life.

"I’ve hiked the top of mountains, I’ve gone sky diving, I work full time, I've got all the things," she said.

Rachel is urging people to take part in check your heart a simple check of your driver's license to see if it has a heart on it - that heart indicates you are an organ donor.

For more information about becoming an organ donor CLICK HERE.