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'Give to Live' misses record but gets the word out, adds to organ donor list

FARGO - Sometimes word of mouth has the power to save lives. During dinner Friday night at Santa Lucia, a group of volunteers encouraged their waiter to participate in Saturday's "Give to Live" challenge. "He said he would come, and he did," said...

Organ Donors
Ashley Athmann, a student at North Dakota State University, registers to be an organ donor Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, at the Alexa's Hope "Give to Live" event at the Fargodome during an attempt at a Guinness World Record for the most people to sign up as organ donors in eight hours, which is being witnessed by Philip Robertson at right with the book. Dave Wallis/The Forum

FARGO - Sometimes word of mouth has the power to save lives.

During dinner Friday night at Santa Lucia, a group of volunteers encouraged their waiter to participate in Saturday's "Give to Live" challenge.

"He said he would come, and he did," said Kirsten Jensen, director of digital marketing for Onsharp, which handled the social media for the event.

"Give to Live," organized by husband-and-wife team Loren and Monica Kersting of Alexa's Hope, aimed to set a Guinness World Record for signing up the most organ donors in eight hours.

The Santa Lucia waiter was one of the 489 people who signed up at one of three Fargo locations. The total tally falls far short of the minimum 4,136 required to set a new record, but Monica Kersting's OK with that.

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"There are already a lot of people who are registered, so that makes things a little difficult for us, but it's a good problem to have," she said during a break at the Fargo Air Museum.

Despite the numbers, the West Fargo woman said the 9-to-5 day was a success.

"We knew when we did this that either way we would win, because either way we would register more people that would not have (otherwise)," she said.

Sign-up took place at the Fargo Air Museum, the Coliseum and the Fargodome.

During the North Dakota State University football game at the Fargodome, Deb Andvik, a hospital liaison for St. Paul-based LifeSource, listened to stories, fielded questions and helped sign up new donors.

"The people that have stepped forward and have wanted to be a part of this has been amazing, from all walks of life, from people that have been affected, from people that have received organs," she said.

Andvik hasn't personally been affected, but, she said, "You know what? It could happen to any one of us, any day."

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, someone is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes.

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Alexa's Hope, dedicated to ending the need for waiting lists for organ transplants, was named after the Kerstings' daughter, Alexa, who died in 2004 at the age of 14 while she was waiting for a double-lung transplant.

The U.S. Department Health and Human Services says an average of 18 people waiting for transplants die every day because of a shortage in donated organs.

Monica Kersting said "Give to Live" helped make the Fargo-Moorhead community aware of that need.

"Even though we didn't break the record, I think we've done a great job of getting the word out," she said.

To register online, go to www.donatelifemidwest.org/nd for North Dakota, www.donatelifemidwest.org/mn for Minnesota and www.donatelifemidwest.org/sd for South Dakota.

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For more information about Alexa's Hope, go to www.alexashope.org

Related Topics: FARGONORTH DAKOTA
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