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Helmut Schmidt, Published November 15 2013

'Give to Live' shoots for world record by signing up most organ donors in 8 hours

FARGO - Monica Kersting is out to set a Guinness world record and she needs at least 4,136 people to help her do it.

The West Fargo woman leads the “Give to Live” challenge drive to sign up more than 4,135 people as organ donors in North Dakota in eight hours.

To do that, Monica, her husband, Loren, and a couple hundred volunteers will have to process every new organ donor’s paperwork in less than 7 seconds – at least eight a minute.

The Kerstings, who also founded Alexa’s Hope, an organization dedicated to ending the need for waiting lists for organ transplants, say the mass sign-up in Fargo on Nov. 23 will help toward that end.

Alexa’s Hope is named after Monica and Loren’s daughter, Alexa Kersting, who died in 2004 at the age of 14 while awaiting a double-lung transplant.

“I just thought it would be a great way to raise awareness, and to kind of really bring that need to the forefront,” Monica Kersting said. “It’s the kind of event that people get excited about. It creates a lot of buzz. That’s what we need to make people more aware.”

The sign-up will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at three sites:

E The Fargodome, 1800 N. University Drive, for the 19,000 fans attending the football game between North Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota.

E Fargo Air Museum, 1609 19th Ave. N.

E The Coliseum. 807 17th Ave. N.

An adjudicator from Guinness will be at the Fargo Air Museum, Kersting said.

Guinness rules allow for more than one sign-up site, as long as they are within a half mile of each other, Loren Kersting said.

“We’re trying to make it as convenient as we can, so no one has to stand in line or stand outside,” he said.

The website www.alexashope.org has links to sign up as an event volunteer, downloadable organ donation forms that can be filled out in advance, and the guidelines on what people need to do to become an organ donor through the event.

Potential donors must be 18 to register in the challenge, though there is no upper age limit. People from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada can sign up at the three sites. Beyond turning in a completed organ donation form, participants must show a driver’s license or state identification card.

North Dakotans who already have “donor” on their license or ID can’t sign up at the event, but they can volunteer and are encouraged to invite others to sign up.

Guinness rules do allow people registered as organ donors in other states to sign up at the North Dakota event and still be counted, Loren Kersting said.

The record for signing up the most organ donors was set Jan. 1, 2013, at Dharmsinh Desai University in Gujarat, India.

Funding for the drive comes from a grant by the Dakota Medical Foundation, the Kerstings said.

Loren Kersting said there are 120,000 people on transplant waiting lists in the U.S. An average of 18 people die every day while waiting for transplants, he said.

Online: www.alexashope.org

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583