By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter —
OKLAHOMA CITY – Citizens across Oklahoma are celebrating the gift of life for Donate Life Month in an effort to raise awareness of organ, eye and tissue donation.
April – National Donate Life Month – is celebrated by the transplant community and hospitals across the state and is organized by LifeShare of Oklahoma. The month is dedicated to encouraging Oklahomans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors and honor those that have saved lives through the gift of donation.
LifeShare, the organ procurement organization in Oklahoma responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue for transplant purposes, encourages all Oklahomans to register as donors.
Every 10 minutes another person is added to the transplant waitlist, the press release stated. There are more than 110,000 people across the country waiting for an organ transplant to save their life, and 600 of those are fellow Oklahomans.
The Lighthouse at Lake Hefner was lit up in blue and green last weekend honoring Blue and Green Day, an observance in Donate Life Month.
LifeShare observes National Donate Life Month every April to raise awareness for those who have given the gift of life and those who have received or are waiting for a lifesaving transplant.
To help illustrate the message of donation, this year LifeShare is using the symbolism of a lighthouse.
LifeShare of Oklahoma announced that 2020 was a record-breaking year for saving and healing lives through organ and tissue donation despite the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the healthcare system.
LifeShare helped 508 individuals to receive lifesaving organ transplants in 2020 – an increase of 5 percent over 2019.
In total, 532 organs were transplanted as some patients receive multiple organs in one operation. This was all made possible by the generosity of 214 organ donors, 9 percent more donors than the previous year. Also, a more than 20 percent increase in the number of tissue and cornea donors means healing and restored sight to more than 82,000 people worldwide.
Every day, 22 Americans die waiting for an organ transplant.
Sixty-four percent of Oklahoman’s have registered to be organ, eye and tissue donors. Eighty-two percent of patients waiting are in need of a kidney transplant.
“Much as the calm water of a harbor embody a final resting place for a sea wary ship, becoming an organ donor is the final act of kindness in someone’s life, shining and light and giving hope to others waiting on a transplant,” 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,” Smith added.
One organ donor can save up to eight lives and one tissue donor can enhance the lives of up to 75 people, the LifeShare website states.
LifeShare, a nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO) dedicated to the recovery of organs and tissue for transplant purposes, works closely with three transplant centers and 145 healthcare organizations in the state of Oklahoma to facilitate donation. In addition, LifeShare works to raise awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation through public education.
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.”
“This April, we want to remind everyone that they can help save and heal lives. We encourage all Oklahomans to take a moment and register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor,” said Jeffrey Orlowski, President and CEO of LifeShare said. “One donor may help save and heal more than 75 people.”
For more information and to register as a donor, visit lifeshareok.org.