On April 2, 2012, President Barack Obama issued Proclamation 8792. The president began by recognizing the generosity of countless organ and tissue donors, describing their choice to donate as a selfless one. He then discussed the need of 110,000 Americans who currently await transplants, and described the “unacceptable loss of life” that befell those for whom a donated organ didn’t arrive in time.
After encouraging those interested in being donors to register at their state organ donor registry, President Obama proclaimed April 2012 to be National Donate Life Month and called upon health professionals, volunteers, educators, government agencies, faith-based and community groups and private organizations to work together to increase the number of donors in the U.S.
Putting Things into Perspective
IU Health and Riley Hospital for Children held a ceremony on April 5, 2012, to commemorate National Donate Life Month. Together, IU Health and Riley Hospital performed approximately 500 transplants in 2010, a total that distinguishes Indiana University Health as the fourth largest transplant center in the U.S. As part of the ceremony, the healthcare providers raised the Donate Life flag in front of Riley Hospital. The ceremony highlighted the fact that 1,000 Hoosiers and 113,000 people across the U.S. are currently waiting to receive life-saving organ transplants.
To put these numbers into perspective, consider that even though there were 100 million designated donors on the national donor registry as of October 2011, there are roughly 113,000 peopleâ€”both adults and childrenâ€”who are currently on the waiting list for organs. However, workers have the daunting task of matching donors with recipients, a job thatâ€™s comparable to looking for a needle in a haystack. Although a single donor can potentially save the lives of eight people, that doesn’t erase the reality that of the 113,000 people who are desperately waiting for organs, many will die before they ever get that life-saving transplant.
Other Observances across the Country
- The National Donation Campus Challenge is on a quest to register and recruit donors to college and university campuses. Schools that have participated as Campus Challenge Partners have successfully registered more than 131,000 new donors on college campuses.
- The California state legislature passed a bill designating April 18, 2012, as DMV/Donate Life California Day and April 2012 as DMV/Donate Life California Month in the State of California, with the goal of encouraging Californians to register to be blood, organ and tissue donors.
- The Oklahoma Organ Donor and Awareness Program Advisory Council issued a formal plea urging Oklahomans to become organ donors.
The goal of National Donate Life Month is to help people understand how dire the need for organ donors is. Organ donors give hope to the thousands of people who are living with organ failure, often teetering at the edge of a cliff where their life hangs in the balance. Donors have the potential to give life to people who suffer from a range of life threatening conditions, including organ failure, burns and skin diseases, and life-altering blood conditions.
Anyone can register to be an organ donor through their state, and by doing so, can have the satisfaction and pride of knowing that what they’ve done may provide someone with the hope they are waiting for. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a blood, organ or tissue donor, please contact your state donor registry today.