April marks first ‘National Donate Life Month’

April marks first ‘National Donate Life Month’


April has been designated “National Donate Life Month,” increasing for the first time the recognition of the event from a week to a month.

“Each year, the month of April brings spring time and nature’s renewal,” said Tommy Thompson, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secretary, in a press release March 24. “Now, each April will remind all Americans of their own ability to renew and enhance life through the gift of donation.”

In past years, the third week in April was designated “National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week.” 2003 marks the 20th year of national recognition of the promotion of organ and tissue donation. Camille Haney, special assistant to Thompson, said in an e-mail Jan. 31 that a presidential proclamation would be requested.

Julie Steller, regional development specialist for the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donation Network, said the Gift of Hope would be using Donate Life pins in place of green ribbon pins during the month of April to promote National Donate Life Month.

“The Donate Life logo is a national effort to brand donor awareness more effectively than the green ribbon; thus Gift of Hope will utilize the Donate Life pins in hopes of assisting this effort,” Steller said in an e-mail.

Local events planned in recognition of National Donate Life Month include a special proclamation and ceremony to the Rockford City Council and Mayor Doug Scott at the April 7 city council meeting, and a Rockford Life Goes On Committee booth and “Putt for Life” at the Industrial Trade Show April 15-16 at the MetroCentre.

In 2002, 22,741 organ transplants and more than 46,000 corneal transplants were performed in the United States, and an average of 173 transplants were facilitated each month by the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry. About 81,000 people remain on a waiting list for organ transplants, and thousands are also in need of tissue and corneal transplants. About 30,000 people are diagnosed with blood diseases that may be cured by a marrow/blood stem cell transplant. Approximately 32,000 units of blood are needed each day, and about 5 percent of eligible blood donors give blood regularly.

“As someone whose life was saved by the selfless act of an organ donor, I urge Americans to embrace National Donate Life Month and to participate in honoring those who have donated by following their heroic example,” said Stuart L. Brower, president of the Coalition on Donation and vice president of ABC Entertainment.

Samples of pins and information about the Coalition on Donation can be found at www.shareyourlife.org. Information on Gift of Hope can be found at www.giftofhope.org.

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