Madison Collins (from left), 16; Kimberly Medsker-Mehalic, Freeport art teacher; Mia Levesque, 16; Bruno Inacio, director of Public Services; Taryn Curry, 17; Secretary of State Shenna Bellows; Matt Boger of New England Donor Services; Judy Couture, transplant survivor; Summer Rogers, 15; and Lucas Cloutier, 14. Maria Skillings / The Times Record

Five Freeport High School students won awards in a statewide competition promoting organ donation.

First-place winner Summer Rogers, 15, painted a bumble bee pollinating a sunflower and wrote “Bee-come a life saver.” Rogers said she chose the design to convey a positive symbol of planting and regrowing new life.

Summer Rogers with her first-place winning poster. Maria Skillings / The Times Record

Freeport High School art teacher Kimberly Medsker-Mehalic said she encourages her students to participate in the competition to help them make an “educated decision” about organ donation.

Mia Levesque, 16, who won second place, and Taryn Curry, 17, who won third place, said they checked the “organ donor” box at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and now have a heart icon on their licenses.

“Organ donation is so incredibly powerful,” said Secretary of State Sheena Bellows.

Bellows shared a story about her friend who experienced liver failure caused by a bad reaction to psoriasis medication. Her friend was hospitalized and learned he would die without a transplant. She said moments after a priest administered Last Rites to him, the hospital found a liver match. Bellows said she had coffee with her friend last week, and he is healthy and remains an organ donation advocate.


The state plays a crucial role in organ donation because most individuals who register as organ and tissue donors do so at the BMV. Last year, 1,325 lives in New England were saved by organ donation — an 8% increase from 2021. There are currently 104,000 patients on the U.S. transplant wait list, according to a press release.

“You are almost more likely to need an organ than become an organ donor,” said Matt Boger of New England Donor Services. “Our idea is to encourage people to say ‘yes.'”

Boger said 57% of Mainers are registered as organ donors, the most in the northeast. The national average is 49%.

Organ donor recipient Judy Couture said many won’t think about the subject until “it hits close to home.” She said, in 2015, she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that led to cirrhosis of the liver. Despite friends offering pieces of their livers, Couture’s disease was so advanced she needed a full transplant. Happy and healthy today, Couture now teaches driver’s ed, educating students about becoming organ donors through the BMV.

“I know what it’s like to need a transplant and be one of the 100,000 people waiting. I’m still here thanks to my donor from Rhode Island, who checked the box ‘yes,'” Couture said.

All the posters created by students will be hung at the 13 Maine BVM branches to inspire others to check “yes.”

To register as an organ donor, visit

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