On July 14, 4,500 fans at Jimmy John’s field in Utica, Michigan gathered for a baseball game. But they also gathered to celebrate the second annual living donor awareness night sponsored by the Living Liver Foundation and Henry Ford Health. The purpose of the event was to honor, educate and inspire: honor living donors, educate the public about living donation and inspire all to consider becoming a living donor to save lives. The game featured many highlights. Henry Ford contacted living donors who donated a kidney or a portion of their liver over the past five years. We offered each donor and their recipient or guest free seats behind home plate. Over 40 living donors were given free tickets. After the first inning, the game was paused to allow a kidney recipient (Cynthia Williams) to meet her altruistic donor (Lindsey Dryden) for the first time on the field. There were many tears of joy. Cynthia, Lindsey, their families and the director of the Henry Ford Transplant Institute, Dr. Marwan Abouljoud, are featured in this photo. Between the second and third innings, 44 living donors and their receipts and guests took the field. As they came onto the field, all the living donors’ names were read and they were honored as the game’s hometown heroes. There was much applause from the fans.
During the game, two public service announcements were shown on the scoreboard. One educated fans about living donor liver transplant, the other about living donor kidney transplant. After the fifth inning, living donors participated in a prize drawing which included the rental of a Cabana suite for a future game, Detroit Tigers tickets and team apparel items. Before and during the game, fans could visit the Henry Ford Health information table to learn about living donation or the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan’s table to learn about their “The Big Ask, the Big Give” living donation program. The game ended with a beautiful fireworks display. Two televisions stations ran segments about the event. Fox2 Detroit’s segment can be viewed here. Channel 4’s segment can be viewed here.
A big thank you to the staff of Jimmy John’s field for making this event a reality.