By Cody Thompson

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – The month of April plays host to several well-known national holidays: April Fool’s Day, Passover and Easter are the most popular. What most people do not know is that April also is the home of National Donate Life Month.

National Donate Life Month honors the individuals who have registered to be organ, eye and tissue donors.

“Organ donation allows an individual to share the gift of life with someone who is in danger of losing theirs,” Timberlands Hospital in Crockett Physician’s Assistant Scott Shaver told the Messenger on Tuesday.

A Newton ISD football coach and friend of Shaver’s was one of the lucky few who receive the organs they so desperately need, Shaver said.

“A friend of mine had a double lung transplant a few years back,” Shaver said. “It was awe-inspiring to see him go from hardly being able to breathe to being able to run and play with his kids again.”

Shaver also shared the story of a young soldier and organ donor who died during his service. His organs were given to eight individuals on the national waiting list.

“People don’t understand how much of an impact organ donation can have,” Shaver said. “This one young man helped eight different people that needed transplants.”

There are approximately 119,000 men, women and children on the national organ transplant waiting list, and approximately 22 people die each day waiting for a transplant, according to www.organdonor.gov. 

“About 95 percent of the population supports organ donation, but only approximately 54 percent of the population are registered as organ, eye and tissue donors,” a Donate Life America press release said.

A new person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 10 minutes, according to www.organdonor.gov.

“The number of people in need of transplants continues to outpace the number of organs donated,” the press release said. “Registering your decision to become a donor is the most effective way to save lives and is a sign of support to those who continue to wait.”

For individuals who are unsure about wanting to register as an organ donor, Donate Life America chief executive officer David Fleming offers this peace of encouragement.

“It is so easy to become an organ donor nowadays,” Fleming said. “At the price of only a few minutes of your day, you could not only save multiple lives, but keep the families of those in need from losing their loved one.”

Donate Life America is a non-profit organization that strives to raise awareness on how every individual has the potential to save lives through organ donation.

Each year, Donate Life America creates artwork for National Donate Life Month to illustrate the power of donation, and this year’s artwork features pinwheels, the press release said.

“Each donate life pinwheel has four sails supported by one stem,” the press release said. “The one stem symbolizes the power of one person to save and heal lives through donation, while the four sails represent organ, eye, tissue and living donation, the four ways one person can save and heal.”

Former United States president Barack Obama released a national proclamation to commend individuals registered as organ donors in 2016.

“By becoming an organ donor, one person can save the lives of up to eight people and improve the lives of dozens – mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, brothers and sisters – who are desperately in need of a transplant,” the proclamation said. “During National Donate Life Month, we lift up the thousands of selfless individuals across America who are living or registered organ donors.”

You can register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor at your local department of motor vehicles, online at www.registerme.org or by using the medical ID tab of the iPhone Health app.

For more information about Donate Life America or how to be a living donor, visit www.donatelife.net.

To learn more about organ donor statistics, visit www.organdonor.gov. 

Cody Thompson may be reached via e-mail at cthompson@messenger-news.com.