National Donate Life Month - William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital
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William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital


National Donate Life Month

Surgeons performing a transplant surgery

Surgeons performing a transplant surgery

By Courtney Steinhafel, LCSW
Monday, April 15, 2013

April is Donate Life Month

In 2003, the observance was officially recognized as a month-long event commemorating those who have received or continue to wait for lifesaving transplants and the generosity of donors and their families. Across the country there are currently over 117,000 candidates awaiting transplant. This number continues to rise. However, there are far fewer registered donors which means many of these candidates never experience the promise of transplant. In 2010, nationally, 6,500 people died while on the waiting list for a transplant.

Through organ, tissue and eye donation, each donor can help 25 to 50 people with life-threatening or life-altering diseases and conditions. Everyone has the potential to be an organ, tissue or eye donor, regardless of age or medical history.  With advances in science and technology, the ways in which these gifts can be used to benefit the lives of recipients is growing. Donated solid organs can save the lives of those with organ failure. Donated corneas can restore sight to the blind. Donated skin, bone and tissue can save limbs, help burn victims or repair critical internal structures such as heart valves. Donate Life Month is an opportunity to learn more about organ donation and to renew the commitment to sharing the gift of life.

Each state operates their own organ donation registry. For Illinois and Wisconsin, these are confidential, computerized databases that document an individual's decision regarding organ donation. The registry empowers donors and makes sure that the wishes of each individual will be respected. For more information or to register, visit these websites:

If you become a registered donor, be sure to share your decision with your family and friends! Through a simple conversation, you have the power to raise awareness about organ, tissue and eye donation and the hope it can offer those awaiting transplantation.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has provided solid organ transplants to eligible Veterans since 1962. The Madison VA is an active Heart/Lung Transplant Center serving Veterans from referring VA facilities across the country. In FY2012, 14 lung transplants and 3 heart transplants were successfully completed. One of the 2012 lung recipients will be featured on an upcoming program titled "The Gift," which will air at 9:00 pm (central) on the Big Ten Network (BTN), April 25th, 2013. To learn more about the Madison VA Transplant Program go to: Transplant Program 



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