'It was my chance to be normal' -- UT Basketball helped Tom Satkowiak deal with deadly disease

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- It took an 11-hour surgery and a liver transplant to conquer Tennessee men’s basketball Assistant Athletics Director Tom Satkowiak’s uncurable liver disease, something he lived with for 18 years. He says Tennessee basketball helped him get through some of the toughest times. (See the video above)

Now he and the men’s basketball team want you to give the gift of life to people you may have never met.

Tuesday night will be Donate Life Night at Thompson-Boling Arena when Tennessee takes on in-state rival Vanderbilt.

“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.”

Before Tuesday’s game, organ donation recipients and families of donors will form a giant “T” that the team will run through before tipoff.

Fans who attend Tuesday’s game and use their mobile device to register as an organ or tissue donor from 5:30 p.m. 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.

You don’t have to go to the game to register to be an organ or tissue donor. Click here to find out more. All it takes is a valid driver’s license to register as a donor.