April is National Donate Life Month

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Our family had the incredible priviledge of being a part of Intermountain Donor Services’ (Yes! Utah) organ donation awareness kickoff event this year. It was an experience I’ll never forget.

We gathered in a conference room at the Salt Lake City Library. They’d pulled together a panel of transplant recipients, donors and donor families. Each took about 5 minutes and shared their experience with organ donation. Okay, okay. I spoke too. (You can a synopsis of the stories here: http://www.yesutah.org/content/story_7).

It was a pretty incredible experience and I was kind of sad that it couldn’t really be shared by more people. But Fox News ran this really nice piece  http://fox13now.com/2012/04/08/donors-recipients-celebrate-organ-donation/. And a very kind reporter/photographer from the Salt Lake Tribune followed Patrick around like papparazzi (much to Patrick’s delight) and published this short, sweet article. http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/53854564-78/utah-waiting-celebration-donor.html.csp

Patrick really got the spotlight, as it was his job to “turn on” the fountain at the donor memorial wall. (He knocked on the lid of the place a man was hiding waiting to turn things on.. When the man popped his head out, Patrick’s was intrigued and delighted.)

But the point of the whole thing, and where the spotlight really should be, is the need for organ donors.

Now, most of us got the speech about organ donation in driver’s ed and really, most of us have checked that box on our driver’s license. And you may even donate an extra $2 when you file your taxes to that mysterious “organ donation” fund available there. (Which, by the way, helps families with enormous post-transplant medical costs.)

But I’d like to challenge you this month to do a little more. Take your pick of the suggestions below:

1) Talk to your family about your wishes for organ donation. Just cuz your license is checked doesn’t mean it will happen. That choice goes to the next of kin. So let them know your intentions!

2) Talk to your spouse about whether your children should be donors. We don’t like to contemplate that possibility.. but one mom at this event said her husband didn’t know her wishes, and so for the hour it took for her to arrive at the hospital, he was worrying about what choice should be made.

3) Learn about living donation. Did you know that there are 400 some odd people waiting for kidneys just in Utah? One woman at the conference shared how she’d decided to be a “good samaritan” donor and how we all have this “extra” kidney for what good reason, if not to save lives? Did you know they can also transplant partial livers from living donors?

4) Learn about bone marrow donation. Brian registered a month or so as a bone marrow donor. Requested a kit online, swabbed his mouth at home so they can make a match. Someday he may get a call saying there is a life he can help save. I can’t wait till Patrick’s older and I can register as a donor, too.

5) Donate blood. Simple as that. I am so grateful for the blood donors who made the many transfusions Patrick has needed possible. It’s a pretty easy thing. And one adult can save many children’s lives.

6) Oh, and if you haven’t, go online and register as an organ & tissue donor. http://www.yesutah.org/ Here’s the link if you live in Utah. It’s a big yellow button. And it will take you less than a minute.

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