April is Donate Life Month


Donate Life Wyoming celebrates donors, donor-recipients and family members

WYOMING – My younger brother got his driver’s permit a few months ago. After, he enthusiastically called and told me, “I signed up to be a donor!”

Every time someone renews their driver’s license or gets one for the first time, they have the opportunity to become on organ, eye and tissue donor.

According to Donate Life Wyoming, nearly 2,000 people in their service area are currently waiting for a transplant.

Every April, Donate Life America and its partners celebrate Donate Life Month. Established in 2003, the purpose of Donate Life Month is to honor donors and their families, celebrate donation recipients and encourage people to sign up to be donors.

Currently, about 63% of Wyoming residents with a license or state ID are signed up as donors. This puts Wyoming among the top five states for the highest donor designation rate.

People who are signed up to be donors, upon death, will have their organs donated to someone awaiting a transplant.

According to Donate Life Wyoming’s website, one donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation. Through tissue donation, one donor can help up to 75 people. Additionally, one eye donor can save the sight of two people.

The heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, pancreas and small intestine are all organs that can be donated. Usable tissues include bones, skin, tendons, heart valves, veins and corneas.

According to donoralliance.org, anyone, regardless of age or medical history, can sign up to be a donor.

Donor Alliance listed some facts and statistics to make people aware of this month. 

“Quick Facts:

  • Lifesaving impact: Just one donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and save and heal more than 75 lives through eye and tissue donation.
  • Anyone can sign up: Anyone—regardless of age, lifestyle or medical condition—can sign up to be a donor. Patients with chronic conditions can potentially save and heal lives through donation.
  • What can be donated: Organs that can be donated include the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, pancreas and small intestine. Tissues that can be donated include bones, skin, tendons, heart valves, veins and corneas.
  • Medical care: Your decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor will not interfere with your medical care. Doctors and nurses caring for you before death are not involved in the donation process.
  • No cost: There are no costs associated with organ, eye and tissue donation. Your family will be responsible for the cost of your care prior to death and any funeral expenses.
  • Dignity and respect: Donors and their families are treated with the utmost respect and care. Donation will not delay or prevent funeral arrangements, including an open casket funeral.
  • Fair and equitable: Severity of illness, time spent waiting, blood/tissue type, size and distance are the factors that determine a person’s place on the organ transplant waiting list.
  • Minority need: Transplant matches made within ethnic groups can be more compatible. That is why it is important for people in minority communities to sign up to be a donor.
  • Religious support: All major religions support organ, eye and tissue donation and view it as a final act of love and generosity.”

This year, due to COVID-19, Donate Life America is relying heavily on social media to get word out about organ and tissue donation. One example of this is the #ShowYourHeart campaign.

It encourages people to upload a photo at https://www.decidingondonation.org/ and share it on social media, stating why they decided to sign up as a donor. People who post on social media with the hashtag “ShowYourHeart” will be entered for a chance to win a “Donate Life Mystery Box.”

The online opportunity that kicks off Donate Life Month is a free virtual concert. On April 1, at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time, the Grammy nominated Eric Roberson will be performing in honor of donors. The public can RSVP on Donate Life America’s Facebook page.

More locally, Donate Life Wyoming is hosting two events this month. April 16 has been designated as “Blue & Green Day.” Those signed up as donors are encouraged to wear Donate Life’s colors to show their support.

On “Blue & Green Day,” Donate Life Wyoming is hosting a virtual “Coffee and Conversation.” At noon on April 16, for about 30 minutes, representatives from Donate Life Wyoming will have a conversation with some of their Advocates for Life. This will take place over Facebook live. According to the Facebook event post, they will discuss their stories, questions commonly asked and how the public can get involved.

One of the many Advocates for Life is Laurie from Casper. Laurie’s husband passed away around this time three years ago. Her story is featured on donoralliance.org and reads:

“On Easter Sunday in 2018, my husband, Sam Weaver, passed away suddenly from a massive post-surgery stroke.

My husband Sam was a teacher at Natrona County High School. He taught Environmental Science and Biology. He was so passionate about his work and the students he taught. He planned to retire last May. He was an avid volunteer in many organizations, serving 50 plus years on the National Ski Patrol, President of the Casper Mountain Fire Department Board, starting the Casper Mountain Pine Beetle Association, and developed the first Firewise defensible space and fuel mitigation program in Wyoming.

At the time of his death, Sam was spearheading the Casper Mountain Ski History Project. His love for Casper Mountain is demonstrated by all his accomplishments and by a special plaque in the lodge at the Hogadon Ski Area.

Sam and I had discussed our wishes to be organ donors and he had just renewed his driver license one month prior and had checked ‘Yes’ to organ, eye and tissue donation.

I felt so proud to know Sam had given such an amazing gift and although we grieved for our terrible loss, we knew another family was receiving word that their loved one would survive. Knowing this brought us so much peace and comfort that day. These families were experiencing such joy on Easter and learning their family member would be able to live on because of Sam was an incredible feeling. I think of the recipients all the time and hope that they are healthy and doing well.”

The day after “Coffee and Conversation,” Donate Life Wyoming hosts their “Donor Dash – A Run for Life.” All proceeds from the 5k run/walk, according to Donate Life Wyoming, go to the Donor Resource Team at the Wyoming Medical Center.

The day begins with registration at 8 a.m. at the Tate Pumphouse Trail Center in Casper. There will be speakers starting at 8:45 a.m. and the race begins at 9 a.m.

Participants who register for $25 by April 4 will receive a t-shirt.

For later registration the fee drops to $10 because no t-shirt is included.

Interested parties can register on Donate Life Wyoming’s Facebook page or at runsignup.com/Race/WY/Casper/DonationAwarenessandAppreciationRunWalk.

The event is free for donor families and transplant recipients.

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