By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

Rainy weather couldn’t prevent The Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency (ARORA) from kicking off a new campaign for organ and tissue donor registration at a rally inside the Arkansas State Capitol building.

The organization launched its new “Save 8. Donate.” campaign on Sept. 24. The event featured a musical performance by the Central High School Band and a personal story from Paul Owen, retired Director of Children’s Ministries at Trinity United Methodist Church of Little Rock.

Paul Owen with the recipient of Melissa’s heart donation, Yolanda Harshaw and her family.

Paul Owen’s daughter, Melissa Owen, was an organ donor, and when she passed away her heart was given to Yolanda Harshaw, a woman who was in dire need of a heart transplant.

Yolanda was present at the event to express her gratitude to Paul and Melissa Owen for donating the organ that saved Yolanda’s life.

Audrey Coleman, Director of Communications for ARORA, also stressed the importance of making sure that people are registered as organ and tissue donors.

“Ninety-five percent of adults in this country support organ donors, but only 54% are actually registered as donors,” Coleman said.

According to ARORA, a single organ donor has the potential to save eight lives, and a tissue donor can improve the lives of up to 200 people.

In Arkansas, there are currently more than 300 people on the waiting list to receive an organ transplant. In the United States, that number is more than 100,000 people.

“Each year the number of people on the waiting list continues to outgrow the number of registered donors. You can help change all of these numbers by registering to become an organ and tissue donor,” Coleman said.

ARORA was established in 1987 as a non-profit, independent organ procurement agency. Their mission is to ensure that all people who need an organ and tissue transplant have the opportunity to procure these life-saving and life-enhancing transplants.

For more information on how to register as an organ donor in Arkansas, visit donatelifearkansas.org. You can also register to become an organ or tissue donor online by visiting https://donatelifearkansas.org/Registration.aspx.