The Gator Times
UF students encouraged to donate organs
By Erin Buchanan
Contributing writer
April 18-April 21, 2002

Alachua County Sheriff Steven Oelrich led a candid discussion Tuesday night on campus about organ and tissue donation with students and those close to the issue.

Oelrich, whose son, Nick, died in a tragic accident at the age of 18, said that losing a child leaves a hole in your chest because something inside you dies.

But something good did come from losing his son, Oelrich said. The lives of 102 different people were touched through Nick’s organ and tissues donations.

“That is the narrowest silver lining of the darkest cloud of my life,” Oelrich said.

Organ donation was something he had not thought much about before his don’t accident, and this is common problem because most people do not have the conversation at their dinner table, he said.

But Oelrich decided to let Nick be a donor because he knew his son led a very giving life always haring, lending his things to friends or giving them away to those in need.”

“In the end, he gave us everything he had,” Oelrich said. “Heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and stomach in the initial transplantation. Then they took tissue, bone, skin and muscle.”

He is an active supporter of the Get Carded campaign, the organ and tissue donation awareness campaign taking place on campus this week that hosted the Tuesday night speaker’s forum.

Get Carded is not life other charities, he said. Instead of asking people for money they ask people to make a promise and have a discussion with their family about their decision they made by signing organ donor cares—a discussion that should not take place in an emergency room, he said.

Oelrich also said that while 83 percent of people think organ donation is a good thing, far fewer talk about it or do anything about it.

He encourages students to “get out there and get other students to sign along with you” to change the statistics until all 79,000 patients waiting for a transplant will have something available and another chance at life.