National Donate Life Month will be celebrated differently this year, but the message is the same: There’s a critical need for more organ, tissue and eye donors in Michigan and throughout the United States.
In the wake of the rapidly spreading COVID-19 virus, Gift of Life Michigan is postponing the celebratory community events it typically holds each April (Donate Life Month) and moving its outreach online. Advocates of donation will find ways to promote this vital mission through Gift of Life Michigan’s social media channels and website. Even as the pandemic seems to have ground daily life to a halt, the need for organ donors has not stopped.
“Our work continues, and we are eternally grateful to everyone who has helped support our purpose of honoring life through donation,” said Dorrie Dils, CEO of Gift of Life Michigan. “We are disappointed that we have to adjust some of our plans, but right now the health and safety of our staff, patients and volunteers is our top priority.”
Donate Life Month was created in 2003 by Donate Life America to encourage Americans to sign up as organ, eye and tissue donors and to celebrate the stories of donors and recipients alike. The theme this year is “Garden of Life,” which symbolizes hope, renewal and transformation.
“This April, we are recognizing the generosity of donation that has grown from the public over the past 20 years,” said David Fleming, President & CEO of Donate Life America. “National Donate Life Month is a time to educate about the donation cause, honor donors and donor families, and recognize the life made possible by the decision of individuals and the dedication of donation and transplant professionals.”
While events across the country have been cancelled or postponed, there are still some specific dates to recognize:
- April 17, Blue and Green Day, when people are encouraged to wear blue and green in support of organ donation.
- April 19-25, National Pediatric Transplant Week, which focuses on ending the pediatric transplant list.
- April 30, Donor Remembrance Day, a virtual event that celebrates donor stories.
Gift of Life Michigan has posted an online Kindness Calendar as well as other suggestions to help celebrate Donate Life month. Some of those include:
- Visit the Gift of Life Michigan social media channels and share your story.
- Take part in the photo contest on Blue and Green Day
- Host a Facebook fundraiser for Gift of Life Michigan.
- Have a conversation with friends and family about your decision to donate, and encourage them to sign up as a donor.
The need for additional organ donors is high across the country. In the United States there are about 113,000 people waiting for a life-saving organ; a new person is added to the list every 10 minutes. In Michigan, there are nearly 2,800 patients on the list.
Gift of Life Michigan is the federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO) serving Michigan. Despite the concern surrounding the spread of COVID-19, Gift of Life continues to work with hospitals, transplant centers and surgeons to facilitate organ, eye and tissue recovery that will save and improve lives. It is taking additional safety precautions to protect transplant recipients, staff and the community.
Potential organ donors and recipients alike have always been subject to rigorous medical tests to ensure a proper match and to guarantee as successful a transplant as possible. Those tests now include screening for COVID-19, as well. Patients who test positive for COVID-19 will be medically ineligible for donation.
“The need for donors continues, even in light of the pandemic. People still are desperate to receive these gifts, and anyone can give them hope by signing up to be an organ, tissue and eye donor,” Dils said. “We are grateful to our healthcare partners who continue their work during this unprecedented health crisis, and thankful for the Secretary of State and her staff for their support of our mission to honor life through donation.”
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About Gift of Life Michigan
Gift of Life Michigan is a federally designated organ procurement organization that serves the state of Michigan as the intermediary between donors, their families and hospital staff. In collaboration with Eversight, Gift of Life provides all services necessary for organ, eye and tissue donation. For more information, or to sign up on the Donor Registry, visit www.golm.org or call 866.500.5801.