On Tuesday, Porter Regional Hospital, honored the sacrifices of organ and tissue donors and celebrated the lives of those they saved in observance of National Donate Life Month. Every April, Porter Regional Hospital marks Donate Life Month with a ceremonial flag-raising and gathering.
Attendees included hospital staff, organ and tissue donation recipients as well as the loved ones of donors. The centerpiece of the event is the Donate Life flag flying high in front of Porter’s campus.
Porter Health Care System CEO Steve Lunn led the event and proclaimed April Porter’s National Donate Life Month.
“Every day, Americans sustain the miracle of life by generously donating their organs and tissue to others in need,” said Lunn. “During National Donate Life Month, we honor the living and deceased donors who gave so that others can live. We celebrate the remarkable achievements of our healthcare and science professionals who perform transplants and develop techniques to make the gift of life possible.”
Kathy Lewis, who this year celebrated the ten-year anniversary since her transplant, also addressed the crowd. She called herself lucky for having only waited two years on the transplant list, and spoke of the importance of spreading donor awareness and of her gratitude towards her donor.
“I honor my donor every day when I wake up and I say, ‘Thank you for the gift of another day,’” said Lewis “And I also honor my donor when I put my garden gloves on, to go out and work in my yard and work in my garden because I would not be able to do that if it wasn’t for my donor. I hope everybody can have a red heart on their driver’s license so we can save lives and wipe out the waiting list.”
The Indiana Donor Network, an organization of professionals that works closely with hospitals like Porter Regional Hospital as well as donor families, also presented at the event. Bev Holesinger is a Registered Nurse at Porter as well as the Donor Network’s contact at the hospital.
“Working with them has allowed people to give the gift of life,” said Holesinger. “It’s allowed families hope after their time of grief. Sometimes we get the opportunity to see recipients come back and you know that their lives have been greatly improved because of the gift that somebody else have given to them.”
Attendees shared a common language as they discussed the importance of the event, calling organ and tissue donation the “gift of life.” Stressing that it is more than a part of the body, but a new lease on life.
“I think sometimes people don’t fully understand it truly is the gift of life,” said Lewis. “If I did not receive a kidney, I would not be here. Literally. And it’s just that simple.”
According the Department of Health and Human Services, a new person is added to the national transplant list every 10 minutes. Over 3,700,000 Indiana residents are registered organ donors, all offering a second chance to the 118,000 Americans waiting for a transplant.
If you are interested in learning more about organ and tissue donation or registering as a donor, please visit www.indianadonornetwork.org.