Matt and Garrett Larrent
Matt and Garrett Largent pose with Beca Leger in support of the Yes Utah! organ donation campaign. (Photo Courtesy of Garrett Largent)

Organ donation is something that people usually don’t think about in their daily lives, but for two Weber State University students organ donation is so much more meaningful than just a box marked on a driver’s license application.

In July 2003 Matt and Garrett Largents’ lives changed forever. One a summer day when the Largent family decided to go on a tubing adventure at the Weber river something unexpected happened.

“We were tubing down the Weber River, my mom, dad, brother and I,” Matt Largent said. “My dad and my brother (Garrett) got caught on a curve somehow and the tube got caught on one side of the river bank.”

While tubing down the river, Matt and Garrett Largents’ father was hit on the head by a branch. Their father fell unconscious into the water and started to drown. Garrett did what he could to help his father and took him down the river where he met with his mother and Matt.

Because they didn’t have cell phones at the time, the brothers had to literally run for help.

“My brother and I ran off to get some help and called 911,” Matt Largent said.

The ambulance came and the Largents’ father was airlifted to McKay-Dee Hospital, but unfortunately he passed away.

“We were having so much fun when all of the sudden our lives just changed,” Matt Largent said

After experiencing the tragic accident, the Largents learned that their father was a registered organ donor.

“It was healing for us because our family really believes in giving and helping others,” Garrett Largent said. “This was just an awesome way to be able to continue my dad’s legacy of giving.”

The Largent family tried to keep their focus on something positive such as organ donation instead of focusing on the lost of their father.

“It was something positive to take from it,” Matt Largent said.

Even though Garrett and Matt Largent were young at the time of the accident, they were able to recognize the valuable contribution their father made by donating his organs. They also realized the impact that their father’s donations had on other people’s lives.

“We got a list of the people he was able to help,” Garrett Largent said. “He helped over 50 people, mainly in Utah but also around the country and some of them were able to walk again, some of them were able to received skin after they were terribly burned.”

According to the division of motor vehicles, which also advocates for organ donation, someone is added to the organ donation list every 10 minutes and approximately 21 people die every day waiting for organs.

With the help of the Largents’ religious beliefs and Intermountain Donor Services, they said they were able to see a positive light in the midst of their grief. 

Intermountain Donor Services, according to its website, is a nonprofit organization committed to aid the recovery and transplantation process of organs and tissues. The organization provides different resources to the donor’s family like customized materials for children, spouses and siblings in order to help them cope. The organization serves Utah, southeastern Idaho, western Wyoming, and Elko, Nevada. Overall they have served around 3.4 million residents and 87 hospitals with four transplant centers.

In their efforts to increase registered organ donors, WSU students from the public relations campaigns class are helping Intermountain Donor Services with its campaign, Yes Utah! The students have been helping the organization by posting content on different social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

“On Twitter we’ve been posting an organ donation myth each day for the month of April because April is national ‘Donate Life Month’,” said Jeff Horne, WSU student.

After tweeting the myth, the class provides a link where followers can learn more about organ donation to disprove the myths. The other way students are helping Intermountain Donor Services is by dressing up as a heart and going around WSU campus taking pictures with students and posting them on Facebook.

“April 8 at the carnival that is being held at the Union Building, we are going to have a booth set up  for YES Utah!,” said Horne.

Students will have the opportunity to sign up to be organ donors at the Yes Utah! booth.

“If people at Weber State really want to support the loving hand of organ donation and want to be part of a great cause, this is something they should really do,” said Garrett Largent.

 

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