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A race was held yesterday in Salt Lake City to raise awareness about the benefits of organ donation. About 100 people participated in the Donate Life Utah 2009 9k Run and nine-tenths-of-a-mile walk sponsored by The Quest for the Gift of Life Foundation. The number nine symbolizes the number of lives that one organ donor can save if they make the decision to donate. The event was a huge success if you consider setting a Guinness Book of World Records a sign of success – 203 new organ donors signed up in one day, crushing the previous record of 142.

Organ donation is critical and very easy to do. Utah, like most states, allows people to check a box when they get a driver’s license which indicates their willingness to donate. But people often overlook the box when they get their first license, typically at age 16, because of their youthful perspective or lack of awareness. And if they don’t affirmatively focus on the issue when they periodically re-new their license during the course of their driving career, the box may never be checked. Fixing the "problem," however, is easy. In Utah, visit or call 866.937.8824. Elsewhere, Google, Yahoo, Bing or use the search engine of your choice, to find information in your area about how to donate. Here’s why:

6,000 people die each year waiting for a transplant, and the national transplant waiting list contains over 84,000 individuals waiting for transplants. The Foundation is committed to helping save these lives by doing "whatever it takes" to significantly increase the availability of life-saving transplant organs, eyes, and tissue.

Thanks to the help and determination of countless individuals, Utah now has over one million people registered as donors, the highest per capita of any state in the nation. Although much has been accomplished, there is still much to do. The Foundation invites every city, town, company, and individual to help save these lives.

Lori and Sid Williams, of Centerville, Utah, who lost their 10 year old daughter who became a donor, said of the experience: "While we will always grieve over Kristen’s death, knowing that her organs gave life and sight to others has been a great comfort to us….How much more difficult it would be for a mother of a dying child whose life could have been saved, if only another family…had found the generosity to donate…"

People die of natural causes and of accidental causes. Regardless, when the time comes be in a position to potentially offer the gift of life to those left behind.

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