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Via Christi celebrates National Donate Life Month by promoting organ donation

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Three years ago, a friend of mine had to make the most harrowing decision of her life. She chose to donate the organs of her teenage son – who was in a fatal car accident – so that other people could go on to live full lives. 

While the circumstances that prompted her decision were heartbreaking, the decision itself was not difficult, she says. Of course she wanted to help save the lives of others, of strangers, even if she could not save her own son. 

Amid the sadness was comfort in knowing that her tragic loss could become a time of celebration for another family, and that perhaps a part of her son lived on by extending the lives of people in desperate need of vital organs and tissue.

On average, 150 people are added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list each day — one every 10 minutes – and that number continues to rise, according to the Midwest Transplant Network. Sadly, 21 die each day because the organs they need are not donated in time. 

April is National Donate Life Month, a time to commemorate those who have received or continue to wait for lifesaving transplants, and a time to honor the heroes that have given the gift of life as organ, eye and tissue donors. It’s also a good time to consider what you and your family’s desires are in the event you may one day face a difficult decision. 

Organ donation is a priceless gift. My mother-in-law received the heart of a 17-year-old. The transplant gave her and us another 10 years together, enough precious time for her grandchildren to know her.

As a mother whose son has had two heart surgeries at an international hub for children’s heart procedures, I know several families whose young children will need a heart transplant within a few years. It’s people making gracious decisions during painful times that will allow these children to reach adulthood.

Ascension Via Christi is committed to raising awareness about organ donation and for three consecutive years was awarded the Medal of Honor for Organ Donation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The medal is earned for sustaining a donation conversion rate of 75 percent or more of eligible donors.

You can register to be a donor at www.YesTheyWantMe.com. Show your support for donation awareness by wearing your brightest blue and green on National Blue and Green Day, April 17.

More facts about organ donation:

  • More than 24,000 patients began new lives in 2014 thanks to organ transplants (about 65 every day).
  • Nearly 124,000 people in the U.S. are currently waiting for an organ transplant. More than 1,000 of them are 10 years old or younger.
  • Nearly 58 percent of patients awaiting lifesaving transplants are minorities.
  • On average, 150 people are added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list each day — one every 10 minutes.
  • On average, 21 people die each day because the organs they need are not donated in time.
  • A living donor can save a life by donating a kidney or a portion of their liver, lung, pancreas or intestine.
  • More than one third of all deceased donors are age 50 or older; nearly 8 percent are age 65 or older.
  • Each year, there are approximately 30,000 tissue donors and more than 1 million tissue transplants performed each year; the surgical need for tissue steadily is rising.
  • A single tissue donor can save or heal up to 50 people.
  • Nearly 50,000 patients have their sight restored through corneal transplants each year.
  • More than 121 million people, approximately 50 percent of the U.S. adult population, are registered organ, eye and tissue donors.