A Month to Celebrate Those Who Donate Life

Last Mother’s Day was a switch in Bruce’s house.  The father of two from Wilmington was the one getting the gift, a new heart.  Diagnosed years earlier at the age of 14 with cardiomyopathy, Bruce’s own heart was failing.  Thanks to the courage and generosity of a family he does not know, Bruce will celebrate many more Mother’s Days with his family.

Besides being the month for Easter, Opening Day for baseball, and most importantly, my birthday, April is also National Donate Life Month.  Throughout the Philadelphia region, 6,532 patients are waiting for the miracle of an organ transplant.  That’s enough people to fill Frawley stadium.  Across the country, over 113,000 people are waiting.  Every day, an average of 18 people die waiting for an organ transplant.

Gift of Life Donor Program is Delaware’s organ & tissue donation network, (also serving eastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey).  These transplant professionals work year round to find donors for those who wait, but April is the month to really get the word out.  Throughout the month, they will be holding events to highlight the critical need for organ donation and to get more people signed up to be organ & tissue donors.

The centerpiece of the celebration is the 17th annual “Dash for Organ & Tissue Donor Awareness.”  Held along the scenic banks of the Schuylkill River, thousands come out every year to show their support for patients as well as families who have donated.  Participants can choose a 3K walk or a 5K or 10K run.  This year’s Dash will be held on Sunday April 16, and starts by the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  For more information, click here.

Even if you cannot join us for the Dash, you can still help.  Sign up to be an organ and tissue donor! It’s easy and quick.  In Delaware, you can sign up online here.  And when you sign up, Tweet it, share it on Facebook, and do whatever else you can to spread the word (and brag a little about how you just signed up to save lives!).  Beyond that, talk to your family about it.  Let them know what your wishes are.  It’s never pleasant talking about death, but it’s a conversation which could potentially save the lives of 8 people.  How many family conversations have that kind of power?

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About the Contributor

Christopher Graham

Chris is currently a Fellow in the 2011 class of Leadership Delaware. He works coordinating organ and tissue transplants with the Gift of Life Donor Program and spent 20 years as an EMT/Firefighter..

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