Save a life with organ donation
By Katherine Miller
CROWLEY – Beginning Wednesday, April 1, a thirty day nationwide initiative will begin in an effort to promote organ, eye and tissue donor awareness in conjunction with April as Donate Life Month.
Flags Across America, a Donate Life America initiative, annually honors and celebrates the thousands of donors and recipients whose lives have been affected by organ, tissue and eye donation.
Suzanna Morton, community educator for the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA), informed, “It is amazing that one donor has the ability to save as many as nine lives.”
According to LOPA, as many as 101,000 people are in need of a vital organ, 1800 of which are in the state of Louisiana. Each day, 18 people lose their lives waiting to receive an organ. In the year 2007, over 400 lives in Louisiana were saved through organ donation.
“We want people to understand the importance of organ donation, and for those who have chosen to be organ donors, we want to express the importance of speaking with your family about your choice,” Morton continued. “Many families do not understand the choice that their loved one has made, so letting them know can help to ease the minds of the grieving family.”
Morton explained that while most people support organ and tissue donation, as many as 96 percent of Americans do not understand the process.
“Once the process begins, our staff remains on site to help the family through the process. Family services are available on an ongoing basis,” Morton explained.
The mission of the agency is to foster educate the citizens of Louisiana about organ and tissue donation and to foster family acceptance of the process.
Each hospital, transplant center and recovery agency throughout the Acadiana area will fly special flags for the cause on the first day of the month. On Saturday, April 11, the eighth Annual Casa Ole Caliente 5K Run for THEIR Lives will take place at Casa Ole in Lafayette, with all proceeds to benefit LOPA.
“This is a great event during which organ donors and recipients and their families are able to interact with each other. The recipients are so grateful for the opportunity to have another chance at life,” Morton mused.
Also, drawing the month to a close will be the first annual Donate Life Poster Contest winner announcement. Morton informed that prior to the Thanksgiving holidays, students throughout the community created posters to promote organ donation.
“The winners of the contest will be decided soon, and we hope to hold a special assembly at the winner’s school. The winning design will then be used on t-shirts and awareness posters throughout the area,” Morton said.