By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Each April, LifeShare of Oklahoma celebrates National Donate Life Month, by raising nationwide awareness on every individual’s power to make life possible for others by becoming an organ, eye and tissue donor.
LifeShare is a nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO) dedicated to the recovery of organs and tissue for transplant purposes.
Annually, Donate Life America creates artwork for National Donate Life Month, in order to help illustrate the donation message. the National Donate Life Month (NDLM) art for 2018 combines the image of a rainbow with Maya Angelou’s quote, “Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.”
“Often following a storm, the presence of a rainbow provides optimism and motivates us to endure through dark times,” said Katy Smith, Vice President, Foundation Director of LifeShare of Oklahoma. “Organ, eye and tissue donation is the bridge of comfort and hope between one family’s mourning and another’s healing — turning tragedy into renewed life.
According to Smith, the National Donate Life Month artwork symbolizes that it takes both rain and light to create a rainbow.
“Maya Angelou’s message applies to all of us, no matter our background or experiences,” Smith said. “We all know rainbows in the people that have helped carry us through life and its challenges. In turn, we have the opportunity to be rainbows in other people’s clouds through the gift of organ, eye and tissue donation.
Smith continued, “By registering to be a donor, you can change one ray of light into a spectrum of healing and compassion.”
The decision to become an organ, eye and tissue donor can be made online at RegisterMe.org or in the Medical ID tab of the iPhone Health app.
“The act of registering your decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor takes less than a minute,” said David Fleming, President & CEO of Donate Life America. Your one action can serve as a lifesaving prism, transforming your decision into life and healing for more than 75 people, their families and their communities.”
Yukon resident, Colleen Sjostrom posted on Facebook, “LifeShare helped me to get through some of the darkest days of my life. I’m forever grateful for their support. I can now see the rainbow at the end of the clouds.”
Currently, 59 percent of Oklahomans have registered to be organ, eye and tissue donors. However, the number of people in need of transplants continues to surpass the number of organs donated.
At present, over 115,000 people nationwide are waiting for a transplant and a second chance at life. On average, 22 people die each day waiting for the organ they need – which results in almost one person dying each hour.
In 2017, LifeShare Oklahoma broke its previous records for the fourth consecutive year by coordinating the donation of lifesaving organs. Saving 481 lives,183 donors resulted in 529 organs transplanted.
“We work closely with five transplant centers and 145 healthcare organizations in the state of Oklahoma to facilitate donation,” said Smith. “Additionally, we strive to raise awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation through public education.
“You can help by registering your decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor, and learning more about donation at LifeShareOK.org.” she added.
LifeShare encourages all supporters of organ, eye and tissue donation to wear blue and green on National Donate Life Blue and Green Day, on Friday, April 13.
Oklahoma City’s SkyDance Bridge, Myriad Botanical Gardens Crystal Bridge and the Route 66 Pops Bottle will all display support for the event. In Tulsa, St. Francis Hospital and the Performing Arts Center will also display the colors blue and green. LifeShare asks supporters to share their photos on social media using the hashtag #BlueGreenDay
On Saturday, April 14, join LifeShare at Sweet Mini’s Donut Company, 14600 N. Penn in Oklahoma City, for donuts and coffee from 9 – 11 a.m. Fifteen percent of each purchase will benefit the LifeShare Foundation.
For more information, visit lifeshareok.org.