SwedishAmerican kicks off National Donate Life Month by honoring donors

Staff Report

ROCKFORD — SwedishAmerican kicked off National Donate Life Month Monday by holding a moment of silence and flag-raising ceremony outside the Heart Hospital to recognize organ donation and honor families of donors.

The month of April is dedicated to encouraging Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors and to celebrating those who have saved lives through the gift of donation. Monday’s event at SwedishAmerican was part of the Pause to Give Life initiative, which originated last year in Wisconsin. More than 80 participating organizations held similar ceremonies Monday to recognize local organ donors and their families.

“Honoring family members when their loved one donates the gift of life is one of the best things we, as nurses, can do to help relieve some of the pain,” says SwedishAmerican CCU Nurse and Organ Donation Committee Member Christiaan Letsinger. “When you see the organ donation flag flying, SwedishAmerican encourages you to take a moment to remember the grieving family and the great gifts that are given through donation.”

Monday’s ceremony took place at 10:08 a.m. to represent that every 10 minutes a new name is added to the list of people in need of a donor, and that one donor can save eight lives. The moment of silence lasted one minute and 14 seconds, signifying the hope that is needed for the 114,000 people on that national wait list.

In 2018, SwedishAmerican Hospital had five organ donors with 19 lifesaving organs transplanted. SwedishAmerican also placed an additional four organs for research. Following the flag raising ceremony Monday, SwedishAmerican’s organ donation team hosted a donor registry event for its employees, patients and their family members in the hospital dining commons. Local organ recipients as well as family members of donors were in attendance to share their stories.

“These families of donors truly understand the significant impact that organ donation can make on someone else’s life,” said Ann Gantzer, Vice President of Patient Services and Chief Nursing Officer at SwedishAmerican. “While there is no way for us to ever thank them enough, what we can do is to honor them and their loved ones by encouraging others to register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor so that more lives can be saved.

For more information, or to become a donor, go to donatelifeillinois.com. R.

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