‘Donate Life Month’ aids in search for organ donors

‘Donate Life Month’ aids in search for organ donors

By Kim McCullough, Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network

CHICAGO—More than 4,400 patients registered at Illinois’ eight transplant centers are counting on the public—on people they don’t know—to save their lives by agreeing to organ donation. If past years are any indication, more than 300 of those patients will die before donated organs become available.

To convince more Illinois families to say “yes” to organ and tissue donation, Illinois hospitals and donation officials join U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson in launching “Donate Life” campaigns this April in conjunction with the nation’s first official observance of National Donate Life Month.

The Illinois Hospital Association and Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network have partnered to support an awareness campaign among hospitals. IHA President Kenneth C. Robbins and Gift of Hope President/CEO Jerry Anderson said the campaign underscores Illinois hospitals’ commitment to educating their communities, saving lives and supporting families who make the decision to donate organs and tissues following the death of a loved one.

Meanwhile, the Illinois Coalition on Donation kicks off its “Donate Life” campaign with an April 7 news conference with the Chicago Fire, Chicago business leaders and a sneak preview of a media campaign promoting donor awareness through the Illinois Secretary of State Organ/Tissue Donor Program.

Among major Chicago buildings participating in the “Donate Life” effort are the 311 Wacker and the John Hancock buildings, which will display exterior green lights and ribbons during April that show support for the cause.

Elsewhere in Illinois, hundreds of events in hospitals, schools, businesses and local communities are planned to educate the public and call attention to the need for donation. Programs, statistics and donation information are posted at www.giftofhope.org, www.mts-stl.org or www.cyberdriveillinois.com.

“We ask everyone to take this time to talk to their families about the end-of-life decision to become a donor,” said Mike Henderson, Illinois Coalition community outreach chairman and public education coordinator for Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Network. A single “no” to donation, he said, means a chance at life lost for as many as seven critically ill patients facing death without an organ transplant.

Anyone, no matter how young or old, can be a lifesaver by choosing to be a donor. The decision to donate life is simple: Sign a donor card and tell your family you want to be an organ and tissue donor upon your death.

To request a reference kit on donation, a local program or donor awareness materials, call the Illinois Coalition on Donation at 888/307-DON8.

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