On Thursday, April 1, a “Donate Life” flag was raised in front of the Erlanger Baroness Campus in recognition of Donor Awareness Month and in honor of the uncountable lives touched by organ, eye and tissue donation.  Representatives from Tennessee Donor Services, The Kidney Foundation, Erlanger’s Kidney Transplant Center and other medical professionals joined Marion County organ donor advocate, Mickey Rose, in front of the newly raised flag during the ceremony.

Ms. Rose was awarded the National Donor Recognition Award last year in Washington D.C. for her service as an advocate for organ donation.  Her daughter, “Justy,” was 8-years-old when she died after a horseback riding accident in 1998.  Ms. Rose decided to donate her daughter’s organs.  Justy’s heart went to a young boy in Ohio, her kidneys to a girl in Mississippi and college professor in Knoxville, and her liver to an East Tennessee man.  Ms. Rose remains in close contact with the two younger recipients of her daughter’s organ and their families.

“I believe organ donation is the right thing to do, if there is a chance to save a life,” said Ms. Rose during the ceremony.  “It is important to talk with your family before a situation arises, before the need comes up.  You should also sign the back of your diver’s license stating you want to be an organ donor.”

Currently there are more than 106,000 people in the United States waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, and more than 2,200 of those live in Tennessee.  Last year, 33 Erlanger patients gave the ultimate gift of life, resulting in 121 lifesaving organ transplants.

“We are pleased to join together with partners like Erlanger to honor those who gave the unselfish gift of life to others through donation,” said Bridgette Fredenberg, Community Services Director of Tennessee Donor Services, “Hopefully the nationwide display of flags will cause people to take notice and then take action by signing up to be an organ, eye and tissue donor.”

Erlanger’s Kidney Transplant Center celebrated its 20th anniversary last September.  Since the opening of the center, Erlanger has performed over 500 kidney transplants providing patients with a full continuum of care, including dialysis, transplants, and post-operative care.  In recent years, Erlanger also received recognition from Tennessee Donor Services for its success in raising organ donation rates.  The hospital system exceeded a donation rate of 77 percent between June 2007 and May 2008.

Photo 1

Some of the individuals who participated in the ceremony included (left to right) organ recipients Ken Reno and Larry Manghane, Tennessee Donor Services volunteers Judy Reno, Mary Gillilan and Luna Ankar, and Bill and Mickey Rose.

Photo 2

Also present during the ceremony were (left to right) Front Row: Susan O’Shields Erlanger Health System Renal Coordinator/Educator; Lynn Whisman, Erlanger Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer; Denise Fugatt, Tennessee Donor Services Coordinator; (left to right) Back Row:  Dr. Carolyn Schreeder, Erlanger Transplant Program Director; and Dawn Benjamin, Tennessee Donor Services Representative