DEERFIELD, Ill., Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- On November 1, 1999 Chicago Bears fans and the organ donation community experienced a great loss with the passing of Chicago Bears legend and organ donation advocate, Walter Payton. Payton, who suffered from primary sclerosing cholangitis, a rare autoimmune liver disease, passed away at the age of 45 while on the waiting list for a liver transplant.
In honor of Payton, Donate Life Illinois (DLI) and Astellas Pharma US, Inc., (Astellas) in partnership with the Chicago Bears, today issued the Tackle the Shortage: Donate Life Challenge encouraging Illinois residents to join the donor registry with the goal of registering 5,000 new donors by the end of the year. Through this initiative, DLI, Astellas and the Bears will work to reinforce the importance of organ donation, showcase the miracle of transplantation and provide residents with the necessary tools and information to join the state donor registry.
"My dad Walter Payton was not just a Chicago Bear legend and football hero, he was a man who inspired people by just being himself. He was hard working, determined and genuinely cared about everyone he met both on and off the football field," said Jarrett Payton, son of Walter Payton. "During the last few months of his life, my dad felt compelled to talk about organ transplantation and openly promote organ donation to benefit all those who wait for a second chance. My family is thrilled to see his legacy live on by continuing to help others through efforts like the Tackle the Shortage Challenge."
Growing Health Crisis
As the number of people awaiting lifesaving organ transplants in the United States continues to climb, it is more important than ever for people who support donation to become registered donors. In the 10 years since Payton's passing, the United States transplant waiting list has grown from 67,000 people to more than 100,000 people, i
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