Honors donors and families during National Donate Life Month
Erlanger Health System officials, Tennessee Donor Services and Donate Life representatives and attendees whose lives were changed by organ donation raised the “Donate Life Flag” in front of Erlanger Baroness campus today. The annual flag raising event recognizes April as National Donate Life Month.
The Donate Life Flags across America program honors the hundreds of thousands of donors, recipients, and their loved ones symbolizing the uncountable lives touched by organ, eye and tissue donation. Organizers also hope the recognition will motivate other people to consider the benefits of organ donation and join the Donate Life Tennessee Donor Registry.
“National Donate Life Month is an opportunity for donor families, transplant recipients and advocates to come together to honor donors and the gift of life,” said Asad Zaman, Administrator for Renal and Transplant Services at Erlanger. “Erlanger is proud of the role our staff provides in the donation and transplantation community. Currently, Erlanger is the second leading donor hospital system in Tennessee and is the only hospital in the region with a kidney transplant program.”
Paula Palmer, one of the guest speakers during today’s ceremony, received her kidney transplant on May 17, 2012 at Erlanger’s Kidney Transplant Center. At the age of 50, Paula was told she had inherited polycystic kidney disease and was placed on the kidney transplant list. Since her transplant, Paula has a new appreciation for life and a desire to let people know about the importance of organ donation.
In 2014, 35 Erlanger patients gave the gift of life, saving 123 lives.
Paula Boring spoke about her son and his choice to donate after a discussion at his high school. Kainen, a 17-year-old football player for Bledsoe County High School became an organ donor at Erlanger when he passed away on September 16, 2011. Paula is now an active supporter of Donate Life Tennessee and shares her son’s story to encourage others to pass on the gift of life through donation.
Tragically, the need far exceeds the number of those who give. While most Americans are in favor of donation, many believe they are too old or unhealthy to donate, and others simply don’t take the steps required to sign up. Almost everyone can be a donor. There is no age limit to organ donation and very few diseases preclude donation. Currently in the United States, more than 120,000 people are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, over 2,700 of those live in Tennessee. Every day 18 people die waiting for a transplant, and every 10 minutes a new name will be added.
Tennesseans can register on the Donate Life Tennessee Organ & Tissue Donor Registry either online at www.donatelifetn.org or through the Department of Safety. Tennesseans can also register to be organ donors by simply checking YES when applying for or renewing their driver’s license. A small red heart is placed on the driver license.