The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

82° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Students urged to donate life

Ali Adelmann’s Ford Explorer rolled two-and-a-half times on mile marker 199.5 near Casa Grande, causing the roof of her car to collapse and tuck her inside the dashboard.

“”In the beginning I was really hopeful,”” said Ali’s sister, Katie Adelmann, a pre-nursing sophomore. “”I think that the first night in the hospital there was probably 150 people in the waiting room.””

When she came to the UA to be with her sister, the pair was “”inseparable,”” Katie Adelmann said.

And Ali Adelmann continued to give in death like she did in life — instead as an organ donor.

The UA has won the Donate Life Campus Challenge the past two years and is competing with Arizona’s other public universities to register the most students as organ donors for National Donate Life Month. Among all three universities, more than 700 people have registered in the last two years, said Nuvia Enriquez, the Donate Life Campus Challenge coordinator.

On campus, Students for Organ Donation and AdCats are working together to urge other UA students to register before the final tally comes shortly after April.

In August 2008, former UA student Ali Adelmann signed up to be a donor. She lived her life to give to others, Katie Adelmann said. Ali’s story is an example of how organ donation can save lives. On Sept. 18, 2009, Ali Adelmann was driving from Tucson to Phoenix for the evening to give a friend a ride and stop for a cheeseburger at the restaurant she worked at in high school, Katie Adelmann said.

“”She was just kind of like, ‘I don’t want you to drive alone. I’ll drive with you,'”” Katie Adelmann said. Halfway through the drive, Ali Adelmann got into a one-car accident.

After being taken to the hospital, Ali was placed on life-support and 17 days later, “”that was when she opened her eyes for the first time,”” she said.

“”I remember calling my friends and being like, ‘maybe she’s going to be OK, maybe one day we’ll hear her talk again,”” Katie Adelmann said.

Ali’s skull was removed to allow the brain to swell. When she was released from the hospital, she was moved to an acute care facility for brain injuries, she said.

“”She did say ‘mom’ on Mother’s Day, which was a really big deal,”” Katie Adelmann said, but doctors at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix said Ali would never be able to fully vocalize, hear or even process words again, “”which I had a really hard time believing and so did my family.””

But when Ali was brought home, her family could tell that she was starting to decline. Soon after, Ali became sick with a respiratory infection, Katie Adelmann said.

We had to make difficult decisions in those weeks, she said. “”When somebody has that quality of life and they tell you that they’re going to be vegetative for life, it’s hard to decide if that’s really fair.””

On February 20, Ali Adelmann died, after her brain had swelled and punctured the hematoma, which bled into her brain, Katie Adelmann said.

An average of 17 people die every day in the U.S. waiting for organs. Ali Adelmann’s choice to be an organ donor contributed to one of the 345 lives saved by organ transplants in the state last year, according to a press release from the Donor Network of Arizona.

“”Every person can save up to eight lives and heal up to 50 lives as a tissue donor,”” Enriquez said.

Charlotte Das, an intern at the Donor Network of Arizona, said she has spoken with families of donor recipients. She said that through organ donation, lives are altered in a positive way and the families are very grateful to their donors.

The Donor Network of Arizona took a lot of tissue and the long bones in Ali’s legs and arms, Katie Adelmann said.

“”She was a really giving person,”” she said, “”that’s what she lived her life to do, was to give to others. She was just a gem.””

In the United States, there are more than 110,000 people waiting for an organ transplant, 2,100 in Arizona, according to the press release.

“”When you pass away, you don’t need your organs,”” said Lauren Beliveau, a senior studying molecular and cellular biology and president of Students for Organ Donation. “”It’s just another way to give back to people and give other people a second chance at life or a better life.””

More to Discover
Activate Search