National Donate Life Month highlights major need for donors

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Despite all of the public awareness about the topic of organ donation, the number of people who are registered donors in Connecticut is still less than fifty percent. During National Donate Life Month in April, the New England Organ Bank is hosting several events to increase the number of registered organ, eye and tissue donors.

Joining us Sunday on Good Morning Connecticut, Mark Brevard, the Family and Community Services Coordinator for the New England Organ Bank, and Carolyn Fletcher, mother of an organ donor, talk about the importance of registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor.

Currently, close to 120,000 men, women and children in the United States in need of a lifesaving transplant. Largely due to the rarity of donation opportunities, only about 28,000 organs are transplanted each year.  As a result, 21 candidates die each day for lack of a donor.

This April, is the 12th Annual National Donate Life Month. The celebration commemorates those who have received or continue to wait for lifesaving transplants and remembers those who have given through donation.  A single organ donor can save the lives of eight people, while a single tissue donor can save and heal 50 others through needed heart valves, corneas, skin, bone, and tendons that mend hearts, prevent or cure blindness, heal burns and save limbs.

There have been many Donate Life flag-raisings in towns across Connecticut. In April, many Connecticut and hospitals are hosting organ donor registry drives:

  • 4/27 Mercy Medical Center
  • 4/29 William H. Backus Hospital

Carolyn Fletcher tells News 8 about her personal connection to organ donation, explaining the passing of her son. She tragically lost her teenage son Jarelle in a car accident in 1998. He was a proud New Haven boy, star football player and hero. He donated his heart, kidneys, pancreas and liver to several families.  Fletcher just recently communicated with one of the recipient families and hopes to inspire other people to make the choice to become and organ donor.

For those who are reluctant to becoming an organ donor, Fletcher and Brevard say to imagine a parent losing a child who could have been given a second chance. Some people feel that they should be buried “whole” and no organs taken, but think of the lives one could save – one day it could be a member of your family.  To Fletcher, there is no greater loss than your child, but knowing that he has helped so many people, keeps him alive in her mind.

New England Organ Bank plays a key role in the organ donation process. It is a federally designated, non-profit organ procurement organization (OPO). NEOB serves New Haven county and six other states. Yale-New Haven is our local transplant hospital.  The organization is dedicated to fostering community and professional support of organ and tissue donation, providing compassionate care for families, and saving and improving lives.

Besides registering as a donor, people can do many things to support organ donation including:

  • They can participate in thBesidee 2nd Annual Blue & Green 5K and 2 Mile Walk/Fun Run on Saturday, May 2rd.
  • New this year, is a USATF Certified 5K complete with prizes!
  • Funds raised from the event will be used solely to educate the public about the critical need for more people in Connecticut and Massachusetts to join the Donor Registry.
  • The race takes place at 21 Griffin Rd North in Windsor, CT from 7:30 – 11:00 am.
  • Registration fee is $25 adult, $10 child 17 & under and $15 for family members of all organ, tissue and eye donors.

If you’re interested in becoming an organ donor, there are a few steps to take.  First, make your wishes known to your family. Also, you can designate yourself a donor on your license through the DMV. You can also sign up online at Donate Life New England’s website www.Donatelifenewengland.org. In Connecticut, only 43% of state residents over the age of 18 are included in the Donor Registry, which is below the national average of 48%.

To watch the full interview, click on the video above. For more information, you can also visit the New England Organ Bank’s website www.neob.org.

 

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