SIU Softball raising awareness for organ donation - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

SIU Softball raising awareness for organ donation

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CARBONDALE --  SIU Softball is hosting Evansville this weekend.  Saturday's game will be the annual Donate Life Green Up game to raise awareness for organ donation.

It's something that hits close to the team.

For years, SIU associate head coach Jen Sewell didn't feel well.  She had been told she needed change her diet.  Then on a Saluki softball trip in 2011, she wound up in the emergency room and finally got a diagnosis.

"It's primary sclerosing cholangitis," Sewell said.  "It's a family of about six liver diseases, all which usually end in liver failure of some form."

PSC is a chronic disease that damages the bile ducts.  Eventually that leads to damaged liver cells and causes cirrhosis.

There is no cure

"You know, it's a bit shocking," Sewell said.  "It's a very rare disease.  You don't meet a lot of folks that are in the same boat as you, so you're kinda like a medical unicorn." 

Back in 2011, doctors told Sewell she would most likely need a liver transplant in five to seven years.  With multiple procedures, medicine, diet and exercise, that's not been the case.

"I'm currently not listed, but there's an outcome where I would be listed at some point," Sewell said.  "I use it as an opportunity to educate those about transplantation, even deceased donor transplantation and living donor transplants."    

The Salukis jumped at the opportunity to partner with Mid-America Transplant to raise awareness organ donations.  The team is wearing special jerseys for home games in April, which is Donate Life month.

"You're bringing a lot of awareness to organ donation, and you don't really hear about organ donation too much," said junior infielder Maddy Vermejan.  "And when you see someone supporting it, it brings a lot of awareness to even our game."

"It really puts everything into perspective," said junior infielder Kyleigh Decker.  "It gives us a new light in our life to play for something else other than ourselves.  Seeing those people that go through it, to see how tough they have to be and everything like that. "

As part of the Donate Life activities this weekend, the players will meet people both from the giving and receiving side or donations.

"It's really enlightening for the kids to understand, there's a lot of people out there waiting for their turn, and we're adding someone to that list about every ten minutes," said Sewell.  

"It's a chance for them to say 'Hey, jump on your Iphone or whatever you've got in front of you and register yourself as an organ donor.' "

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