Tribe hosts organ donation education event on 1-year anniversary of The Greyson Initiative

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 11:55 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BELCOURT, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa is hosting an educational event that furthers their trailblazing leadership around organ donation and transplantation.

On June 7, 2022, the Tribal Council of Turtle Mountain adopted “The Greyson Initiative,” a law to add organ, eye and tissue donor registration to tribal identification cards. The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa are the first tribe in the nation to offer this option to their members, officially on November 14, 2022.

The Greyson Initiative makes documentation of an important health care decision more accessible to members of the Native American community who may not have a driver’s license or State ID. This initiative is inspired by the advocacy of tribal member Joan Azure. Joan is driven by her professional experience with donation and transplantation and personal experience: Joan’s one-year-old grandson, Greyson, received a heart transplant in 2019.

“Let’s Celebrate & Educate” falls on the 1-year anniversary of Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa becoming the first tribe in the country to add organ donation registration to their tribal identification documents and intends to educate tribal members from across the Great Plains.

As of November 12, 2023, there are 2,704 people across North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota waiting for a life-saving transplant. Of those, 140 identify as Native American/Alaskan Native. Every nine minutes, across the country, someone dies waiting. There simply aren’t enough organs to meet the need. In only about 20 percent of people who identify as Native American say “yes” to donation when approached in the hospital, compared to 60 percent of people who identify as white.

Great Plains tribal leadership and members, students, community partners and healthcare professionals will be in attendance. Educational presentations and panels are being hosted by tribal leaders, community members, healthcare leaders and LifeSource.

Eagle Nation drug group will perform traditional honor and healing songs, and Donate Life America is presenting Joan Azure with the national “Ambassador of the Year” award.

The event is happening on Wednesday, November 15, from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at Sky Dancer Casino & Resort in Belcourt, ND.