You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 4:31 p.m.

First 'Be A Hero at the Big House' is biggest donor drive ever at U-M

By Laura Blodgett

Nicole Denton learned her daughter had hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare congenital heart defect, when she went in for her regular five month ultrasound during her pregnancy.

Born May 3, baby Faith and her mother have been in C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital ever since, waiting for a heart transplant. There is no way of knowing how long it will be.

Organizers of the biggest donor drive ever on University of Michigan campus hope to help Faith and many other patients with their effort. "Be a Hero at the Big House" will take place Wednesday, Nov. 16, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.


U-M medical students painted The Rock on Washtenaw on Tuesday morning to advertise the donor event at Michigan Stadium on Wednesday.

Courtesy photo

A single mom, Denton’s older children Orlando, 6, and Brooke, 2, are staying with her parents in Cadillac. They drive down on weekends and holidays to visit their mother and baby sister in the hospital.

“They understand what is going on and they know she is in the hospital waiting for a heart,” said Denton. “But it’s hard because every time they leave they cry because they want me to go home with them.”

Denton is grateful to all the people who donate blood as her daughter has had “more transfusions than she can count on both hands and feet.”

When it comes to organ donation, Denton is painfully aware that it would mean a heartbreaking loss for another family.

“I’m not waiting for another child to die, but if they do, I [am grateful] to those parents who will let their child live on through mine and be willing to save lives with that. It means a lot.”

Called Be a Hero at the Big House, the event is sponsored by Michigan Athletics in partnership with Wolverines for Life, a collaboration between U-M Health System and other University of Michigan groups, along with the American Red Cross, Be the Match/National Marrow Donor Program, Gift of Life Michigan and the Michigan Eye-Bank.

People can get a VIP view of the stadium from the Jack Ross Stadium Club on the 4th floor while donating blood, signing the Michigan Organ Donor Registry and getting screened for the Be the Match bone marrow registry. Parking is free inside the gate on the concourse.

“The Big House seats about 111,000 people and that is about as many people who are waiting nationwide for an organ,” said Mary Masson, PR representative from U-M Health System. “Every day 19 people die across the country because they do not get one in time.” U-M Health System does roughly one transplant a day.

“It just takes seconds to fill out the donor card and all you need is your driver’s license,” added Masson.

Those attending can help U-M with the annual fall challenges between U-M and Ohio State—the Wolverine-Buckeye Challenge and the Blood Battle. Each school tries to beat the other in collecting blood donations or organ donor sign-ups before their teams play on Nov. 26. Last year, U-M won both challenges.

Those who donate at the Big House event also will be entered into a raffle drawing for various prizes, including tickets to U-M athletic events and autographed souvenirs.

If you can’t make it, you can register to give blood or be an organ donor online at Bone Marrow donors can register at



Tue, May 15, 2012 : 12:05 p.m.

I understand your pain nothing could have ever prepared me when i got the news that my son kaiden had plus. Kaiden was born 3/27/12. I had wonderful prenatal care yet no one found his disorder. He was four days old ready to go home when we were rushed to dovos were we received the worst news of our lives . Than rushed too Ann arbor. Four days later the first of many open heart surgerys. He is now at home doing wonderful. There is hope stay positive and stay strong.

David J Undis

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 5:44 p.m.

Your story about 'Be a Hero at the Big House' and Organ Donation highlighted the tragic shortage of human organs for transplant operations. There are now over 112,000 people on the National Transplant Waiting List, with over 50% of these people dying before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year. There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage – give donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die. Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. Everyone who is willing to receive should be willing to give. Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has over 14,800 members as of this writing, including 422 members in Michigan. Please contact me - Dave Undis, Executive Director of LifeSharers - if your readers would like to learn more about our innovative approach to increasing the number of organ donors. I can arrange interviews with some of our local members if you're interested. My email address is My phone number is 615-351-8622.