It will be Donate Life Night at Thompson-Boling Arena when Tennessee hosts in-state rival Vanderbilt Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.
Doctors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center performed an 11-hour liver transplant surgery on Tennessee Assistant Athletics Director Tom Satkowiak on Oct. 18. Satkowiak returned to Knoxville to resume his duties as men’s basketball media relations director in mid-November.
He had suffered from an incurable liver disease for 18 years before benefitting from the gift of organ donation.
“A family I’ve never met and an individual I’ll never have the opportunity to thank made the decision to give the ultimate gift through organ donation,” Satkowiak said. “It has changed my life in extraordinary ways and has motivated me to advocate for organ and tissue donation awareness. Sadly, the high number of individuals on organ waiting lists, along with a shortage of registered donors, means that time runs out for far too many families.
“The goal for Donate Life Night is to encourage Tennessee fans to take action and register as donors.”
Tickets for Tuesday’s game remain available for purchase via AllVols.com.
As part of Donate Life Night, the Volunteers will wear special shooting shirts during warm-ups and on the bench for Tuesday’s game. Members of Tennessee’s coaching staff will wear Donate Life lapel pins.
Donate Life Tennessee will have a presence on the arena concourse, with representatives available to answer questions and provide information about organ and tissue donation.
Before the game, organ transplant recipients and families of donors will form the human “T” that Tennessee runs through when it takes the court prior to tipoff.
Additionally, fans who attend Tuesday’s game and use their mobile device to register as an organ or tissue donor from 5:30 p.m. ET through the end of the game will be invited onto the court to take a group photo with Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes following his postgame Vol Network radio interview. New registrants will be asked to show their registration confirmation email in order to access the court for the photograph.
“What an awesome opportunity to celebrate the ‘gift of life,’ Tennessee Donor Services Executive Director Jill Grandes said. “Thank you to coach Rick Barnes, Tom Satkowiak, Tennessee Athletics and the entire Tennessee basketball team, along with all Vol fans, for their support of organ and tissue donation and saving lives.”
In 2018, 36,529 individuals in the United States—including 1,026 in Tennessee—received a life-saving organ transplant. And there are currently 113,886 Americans in need of a transplant, including 3,009 in Tennessee.
Individuals with a valid driver’s license can officially register as an organ or tissue donor by visiting www.BeTheGiftToday.com.