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Cary resident hopes to set world record at living organ donor gathering in Chicago

Group hopes to set world record with 250 attendees

Laurie Lee poses for a photo with her father, Dan Dickinson, who is a liver transplant survivor. Lee donated a kidney in 2016.
Laurie Lee poses for a photo with her father, Dan Dickinson, who is a liver transplant survivor. Lee donated a kidney in 2016.

A Cary resident is co-organizing an event that aims to set a new Guinness World Record: the greatest number of living organ donors gathered in one place.

Laurie Lee, who donated a kidney in fall 2016, has registered more than
340 living organ donors to attend the April 21 gathering at “The Bean” in Chicago’s Millennium Park.

The event, known as the “Guinness World Record Attempt: Living Donor Rally,” is primed to be the largest gathering of living organ donors in history. To set the new record, 250 living donors must attend.

The goal of the rally during National Donate Life Month is to raise awareness of the significant need for living donors.

“You hear every day on the news about an organ shortage,” Lee said. “There isn’t an organ shortage. There’s an organ surplus.”

The problem is a lack of people willing to donate, Lee said.

“There’s an allocation issue,” Lee said. “Most people are walking around with two kidneys. You only need one to live a perfectly normal life.”

Lee is organizing the Chicago event with Indiana resident and fellow donor Kate Griggs. The two met online while each of them waited for the call letting them know they were matched with a person in need of a kidney. 

Lee, whose father was a liver transplant recipient in 2011, donated her kidney in November 2016 to a stranger she still has never had contact with. It was the first part of a six-person kidney donation chain.

Donors from 36 states and from as far away as India and Canada have registered to come to the gathering in Chicago.

More than 120,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for organ transplants, according to the American Transplant Foundation.

About 20 people die every day waiting for a transplant.

“If we could motivate people to do this, there wouldn’t be people dying waiting for organs,” Lee said. “What greater purpose can you have in this world than to save the life of somebody else?”

The event will be from 2 to 6 p.m. April 21.

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