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Football Coach Tenyer is a Champion for Organ Donation

MSU Athletics

When he's not tied up with duties as the Morehead State head football coach, Rob Tenyer does his best to promote a cause close to his heart.

Organ donation.

This fall, for the fourth season in a row, MSU will have a game-day event to promote that effort and Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates. KODA, as it is known, was formed in 1987 and is dedicated to saving lives through organ and tissue donation and transplantation. In addition to Kentucky, KODA serves parts of Indiana and West Virginia.

The date for this year's MSU game-day event has not yet been set.

Tenyer's direct connection to organ donation is his father, Joe, who received a kidney transplant in 2014.

Soon after that, the coach received a call from a young lady that worked with his wife, Jane.

The call came from Morgan McCallvin, who is a two-time pancreas transplant recipient and a KODA ambassador.

When she encouraged Tenyer to become involved in promoting organ donation, he was quick to agree.

One highlight of his activity is the Eagles' annual game-day promotion. Organ recipients and donor families are invited to attend and, along with Joe Tenyer, serve as game-day captains.

Part of the program in 2014 included a presentation, jointly sponsored by KODA, that featured Carolyn Henry Glaspy, the mother of late Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry. His organs were donated after he died in a 2009 automobile accident.

Tenyer talks to his players about organ donation.

"Most of them know about my father's situation and his transplant," he said. "A lot of them have signed up to be organ donors since then. ... It's kind of been something that I try to raise awareness with. Whether they choose to do that or not, that's totally up to them. But I probably consider it my most important philanthropy project."

But there are not enough organ donors to serve the need. There are some 123,000 Americans awaiting organ transplants. Each day, 23 will die waiting.

McCallvin is on the waiting list now.

"She's been through quite a bit. She's still battling," Tenyer said. "Her body is continuing to reject the organ she's received. They said she'd probably only live until she's 30, and I think she's almost 28. So I pray that she gets another opportunity, another organ, as soon as possible. I just hope that she can continue to live past the age of 30 and have a quality life, as my dad is now."

In addition to pancreas and kidneys, organs that can be donated for transplantation include lungs, heart and liver. Tissues include corneas, skin, heart valves, bones, saphenous veins and tendons.

Tenyer has been called on for organ-donation promotional appearances at the Rowan County courthouse and on the MSU campus. He also makes use of social media to raise awareness of milestones such as National Donate Life Month, Blue and Green Day and National Donors Day.

What would he say to you if you were considering to become an organ donor, but you just weren't sure?

"My message would be that someone saved my father's life," Tenyer said. "And really, my only job in this is just to promote and raise awareness, and it's totally up to them to become an organ donor. But organ donors saved my father's life. That's my message."

What would you want someone to decide if you or someone in your family needed a transplant?

To become an organ donor, KODA recommends discussing your wishes with your family and then going to the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry online at www.donatelifeky.org. Completing the Registry form ensures that your wishes will be carried out in compliance with Kentucky's "First Person Consent" law. One also may join the Donor Registry when renewing a driver's license and having a donor-heart symbol imprinted on the license.

More information about KODA is available at: http://www.kyorgandonor.org

The author is a living donor, having given a kidney to a friend in 2000.

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