February 14th is not only Valentine’s Day, but it is also National Donor Day. According to Donor Alliance, it originated in 1998 to raise awareness not only about organ donation, but also cornea, tissue, bone marrow, platelets and blood donation.
According to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), in 2016, there were a record breaking 33,606 transplants performed. 82% of the organs were donated by deceased donors which was up 9.2% from 2015. Deceased donors also make approximately 1.5 million tissue transplants possible each year.
The Ultimate Gift of Life is working hard 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 New Mexico, and via print, radio, internet, and social media to reach the rest of the US.
We could not do this without the help of our volunteers. Many of our volunteers have had 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 her son. Joann shares her story at speaking events encouraging people to not only register, but to tell their loved ones about their decision.
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. Margie volunteers at booth events and is passionate about organ donation.
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. Audrey shares her story at speaking engagements and says it is comforting knowing that “OJ saved others who had the desire and 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 helo’s 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 helo’s 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 118,000 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 more!
Turn a Time of Loss Into a Time of Hope, Register Today to be an Organ Donor!