April 30th is Donor Remembrance Day, a day to remember and honor those that made the decision to give the ultimate gift of life.
According to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), in 2020, there were a record breaking 39,035 transplants performed made possible by over 12,500 deceased donors and more than 5,700 living donors. Even with the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 was a record-breaking year for transplants.
The Ultimate Gift of Life is working to raise awareness about organ donation and to increase the number of registered organ donors. We do this through booth events and speaking engagements in Texas and via print, radio, internet, and social media outlets to reach beyond the Texas border.
We could not do this without the help of our volunteers. Many of our volunteers have first-hand experience with organ donation and transplantation. They are donor families, living donors and organ recipients.
This month we want to remember four individuals who had made the decision to be an organ donor and to honor their families who keep their memories alive and continue to help save lives.
Jeffrey Lopez was 17 when he was killed in a drive by shooting. He had made the decision to be an organ donor when he got his driver’s permit, but had not told his mother, Joann. Joann was also a registered organ donor but was not prepared when it came to the tragic loss of her son. Joann did agree to honor Jeffrey’s wishes and was able to meet the young lady who received Jeffrey’s heart. It brings here comfort knowing that Jeffrey saved other people’s lives.
Yank Kannady was an athletic, outgoing young man and when his uncle needed a kidney transplant, he told his mother, Margie that if anything were to happen to him, he wanted to be an organ donor. When Yank passed away, Margie knew his wishes and agreed to donate his organs. Margie’s brother, Frankie was a two time kidney recipient, so she has experienced two aspects of organ donation. Each time Margie shares her story lives are still being saved.
When OJ Marable was getting ready to get his driver’s license, he and his mother Audrey discussed organ donation and OJ made the decision to say yes to organ donation. OJ later took his own life. When Audrey shares her story she says it is comforting knowing that “OJ saved others who were fighting to live!”.
Jacob Krebs was a determined young man. He decided early in life that he wanted to be a Navy Seal or a Medic so he could fly overseas in helos to rescue wounded soldiers. While in high school, he was doing water training when he drowned accidentally. Jacob was an organ donor and saved and improved several lives. Especially touching is that Jacobs lung recipient was a retired Army medic who flew over in helos and helped rescue wounded soldiers! Jacob’s mom, Mary, dad Will and his sister Julie are very active volunteers.
These young men are heroes and through their families they are still saving lives today!
Currently there are over 107,000 people waiting for a life-saving organ transplant and thousands more needing tissue transplants. One deceased donor has the potential to save 8 lives, restore sight to 2 people and improve the quality of life to as many as 75 others!
Turn a Time of Loss Into a Time of Hope, Register Today to be an Organ Donor!