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April Is National Donate Life Month

By Staff | Apr 22, 2010

In our busy lives and the everyday hustle and bustle, one thing that is all too often taken for granted is a person’s good health. While many people complain good-naturedly about aches and pains, there are too many people in our communities and our county who do not enjoy that same good health. For some of our neighbors, friends and even immediate family members, their lives are dependent on medications or treatments, or in some extreme cases, on transplant technology.

The month of April is recognized as National Donate Life Month, to bring attention and awareness to the practice of donating organs and tissue to those in need of such life-saving and life-altering assistance.

For one Emmetsburg woman, the month of April will always have a very special meaning. Cindy Baker received a kidney and pancreas transplant on Dec. 23, 1998. Ever since that life-changing procedure, Baker has given selflessly of her time and energy to make people aware of the importance of tissue and organ donation and the ‘gift of life’ that such donations provide.

“It has been 11 years since I received my kidney and pancreas transplant, my ‘gift of life’, from my donor and donor family,” Baker said. “I write to them at least two times a year, to let them know how I am doing. I have not met my donor family yet, but I still keep hoping someday in the future that I will.”

The importance of organ and tissue donation is growing more and more important each day. While the Iowa Donor Registry currently has one million registered donors at this time, donor matches must be made with painstaking care before any procedure takes place. The need, however, remains real, as on Mar. 1, of this year, 584 Iowans were listed on some form of transplant waiting list. Nationally, there were 108,390 people on transplant waiting lists on Mar. 1, waiting for organ donation.

National statistics show that a new name is added to the National Transplant Waiting List every 12 minutes of the day or night. But time runs out for an average of 18 people per day, who are not fortunate enough to receive that transplant in time to save their lives.

“The Iowa Donor Network provides education about organ and tissue donation to medical professionals and the general public and support to donor families in Iowa,” Baker noted. “Tissue donation also continues to rise in Iowa. From just one tissue donor, hundreds of people can be affected and a single organ donor can save up to seven lives through their selfless act.”

It’s hard to not know of someone in your community or area who has not been affected in some way by organ or tissue donation, and for all of the positives that come from organ and tissue donation, there are still negatives. But, those negatives come from a lack of understanding, according to Baker.

 “If you want to make a difference in your life, learn the facts about organ and tissue donation, so we can destroy the myths of donation,” Baker said. “So that the people waiting for their ‘Gift of Life’ or life enhancing transplants do not have to wait as long. What a great way to leave a legacy!”

Everyone is urged to discuss the idea of organ and tissue donation with his or her families, and to register online with the Iowa Donor Registry and carry an organ donor card. To learn more about organ and tissue donation, go to any of these websites: www.iowadonornetwork.com, www.nkf.org, www.organdonor.com, or www.unos.org.