This April marks the 11th annual National Donate Life Month, a celebration commemorating those who have given the gift of life through organ and tissue donation. For those whose lives have been saved or healed by a transplant, National Donate Life Month provides a chance to share their story to encourage more people to register as donors.
Suellen Canfield was a happy wife, mother and grandmother when she died suddenly in 2001. Her family had no doubt that if given the opportunity she would continue to help others even after she had passed. At 61 years old, Suellen’s gift of organ donation saved the lives of three people. Her husband, Bob, volunteers for New England Organ Bank sharing his story of how in great loss he found comfort in his wife’s ability to help others.
“The transplant waiting list is made up of people of all ages,” says Laura Dempsey of New England Organ Bank. “It’s important to show that people of any age can make a powerful difference in someone’s life by being a donor. Donation saves and heals lives every day, but it can only happen when someone makes the important decision to register as an organ and tissue donor. You can make that lifesaving difference by registering your decision to donate.”
In addition to organ donation, tissue donations help over one million individuals each year. Heart valve, bone and skin donations give recipients a new chance at a healthy life, the recovery of tendons and ligaments can help heal a severe sports injury, and cornea donations give the gift of sight.
Thanks to a group effort made up of Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, New England Organ Bank, motor vehicle department offices and Donate Life volunteers, the number of registered donors continues to climb. There are now 112 million registered donors in the United States, over 5 and a half million from New England. Still, the number of people in need of transplants rises as well. Still, the number of people in need of transplants continues to outpace the supply of donated organs. More than 120,000 people are currently awaiting a transplant, and sadly, an average of 18 patients die every day, because the organ they needed was not donated in time. The solution to this problem is to continue educating the public about the lifesaving effects of donation and transplantation and encourage them to sign up through their state donor registry.