SALT LAKE CITY — Justin Berube doesn't remember a lot about getting a new kidney at age 14, but he remembers feeling like it was a second chance at life.
"I can't help but feel gratitude for my donor family and for DonorConnect," he said Wednesday during a ceremony in which Intermountain Donor Services announced an official name change for the organization.
The organization that coordinates organ donation services throughout Utah and the intermountain region, is now called DonorConnect.
"It really resonates with me, because this one connection that DonorConnect helped me make, the connection with my donor family, is what's made my life possible, my second chance, my dreams come true," Berube, of Farr West, said.
He was on a waiting list for 30 days before he received a new kidney in 1997.
"That is the day that I'll remember I was given my second chance," Berube said.
The name change reflects the organization's mission to save lives, but also sets it apart from a prominent health care system in Utah, with which DonorConnect is not affiliated, said DonorConnect CEO Tracy Schmidt.
"Our mission is about connecting; connecting those that are willing to donate to those that are in need of a transplant," he said. A lot of people associated it with Intermountain Healthcare, but DonorConnect works with all of the hospitals and transplant programs throughout its multi-state service area, serving 3.7 million people.
It is the fifth-largest donor services organization in the United States.Comment on this story
The region DonorConnect serves is designated by the United Network for Organ Sharing, which "unites people to save lives," according to the national organization's website, at unos.org. It tracks the number of people awaiting lifesaving organ transplants in the U.S., which was 113,833 people as of Thursday.
The organization has also facilitated 9,502 transplants from 4,561 donors already this year.
Schmidt said that while the name of the locally based organization has changed, "our commitment to serve our community never will."
DonorConnect will continue to facilitate the Utah donor registry, Say Yes, Utah, which can be found online at yesutah.org.