Gift of Life honors donors, recipients and volunteers who help save lives
Rebecca Anderson has been able to watch her daughter get married, graduate from Michigan State University and earn a master’s degree. She’s traveled to the Mediterranean and celebrated her 30th anniversary with her husband, Rex – and it’s all due to someone she never had a chance to meet.
“It’s all because one person said ‘yes’ to organ donation,” said Anderson, a retired teacher.
Born with idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis (IHSS), a condition that causes thickening of the heart muscle, Anderson required two open-heart surgeries and ultimately a heart transplant in 2016. Now, she advocates for organ and tissue donation, using her own story as proof of the good it can do.
“I’m always on my soapbox about donation. It’s so important,” said the 61-year-old Southgate resident. “I hope that when I leave, I get the privilege of having an honor walk. I’m going to donate the organs that I can. I just think it’s an incredible thing.”
April is National Donate Life Month, designed to raise awareness of the importance of registering as an organ, cornea and tissue donor, educate people about the process, break down misconceptions, and honor the stories of donors and recipients.
There are more than 100,000 people waiting for a life-saving organ in the U.S., including about 2,500 in Michigan. On average, someone is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes in our country and as many as 22 people die each day waiting for a new organ. Gift of Life Michigan, the federally designated organ procurement organization that serves the state, is celebrating 50 years of saving lives by educating the public about organ and tissue donation, encouraging people to sign up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, and celebrating the stories of donors, their families and transplant recipients.
Dorrie Dils, CEO of Gift of Life, said the organization has seen a steady increase in donation, but more needs to be done. “I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve done and the number of lives we’ve saved,” she said. “The need for registered donors is still critical, and we will continue to collaborate with our hospital and transplant center partners to work toward the day where nobody dies waiting for a life-saving gift.”
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Gift of Life will recognize National Donate Life Month virtually, featuring stories, videos, and online forums about important topics. More details can be found on the Donate Life Month Page.
Other noteworthy dates in April include:
- April 7, Donate Life Living Donor Day
- April 10-16, Donate Life Spirit Week
- April 16, Blue and Green Day, when people wear or decorate in blue and green to to promote donation
- April 18-24, National Pediatric Transplant Week
Donate Life Month is also an opportunity to focus on the future. Gift of Life Michigan will join the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) in their goal to achieve 50,000 transplants in the country by the year 2026.
“We look forward to a future of saving even more lives by committing to this laudable goal,” Dils said. “The transplant community has always been a collaborative one, and we will all have to work together to make this goal a reality and offer additional hope for healing for the thousands who need it.”