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Visitors to the Newtown Municipal Center on April 13 may be immersed in an atmosphere of blue and green as town employees and school district staffers join Executive Assistant Susan Marcinek, who is helping organize this year’s Donate Life Month and Blue & Green Day outreach.
National Donate Life Month (NDLM) was instituted by Donate Life America and its partnering organizations in 2003.
Celebrated in April each year, NDLM features an entire month of local, regional, and national activities to help encourage Americans to register as organ, eye, and tissue donors and to celebrate those that have saved lives through the gift of donation.
On April 13, Newtown and school employees are encouraged to wear blue and/or green, to consider becoming an organ and tissue donor if they are not already, and to share information with those they know and love about how to join them as donors.
Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN) is also honoring these extraordinary people who have saved and enhanced lives through organ and tissue donation.
The network’s facilities, Danbury, New Milford, and Norwalk Hospitals, all facilitate the donation process in order to fulfill a donor’s wish to give the gift of life.
In 2017, WCHN, through coordinated efforts with New England Donor Services (NEDS), helped to save 23 lives and enhance up to 3,600 more through organ and tissue donations.
As of today, nearly 114,900 men, women, and children in the United States are in need of a lifesaving organ transplant — and more than 1,200 of these people live in Connecticut. Every ten minutes, another person is added to the organ transplant waiting list.
A single organ donor can save up to eight lives and heal more than 75 people through tissue donation.
Daniel Krauss, a resident of Sandy Hook, is one of those lives.
Mr Krauss received a new heart one year ago on April 8, 11 years after being diagnosed with congestive heart failure during a visit to Danbury Hospital’s Emergency Department.
“I’m thankful for the support of my family, friends, and all of the doctors and nurses who have treated me over the years. I’m especially thankful to my donor and his family. I’m very cognizant of the fact that someone gave me the ultimate gift and saved my life,” said Mr Krauss.
The local resident regularly participates in Donate Life Connecticut speaking engagements at Danbury Hospital to honor his donor and to generate awareness about organ donation.
Shannon Beardsley, RN, BSN, CCRN, hospital relations coordinator, New England Donor Services, said she is always amazed that at the most trying times, families find the strength to think of others and support the organ donation process.
“The donor’s family knows that their loved one is saving lives and improving the health of many others,” she said.
Jackie Woodward, who tragically lost her 23-year-old son, is another advocate for organ and tissue donation. She also participates in Donate Life Connecticut speaking engagements at Danbury Hospital and generously shares her experience.
“My son Jesse donated tissue that I am sure has helped many, many people. He paid it forward, so now it’s my turn. I try to educate others. You can help even when you think you have nothing to give. You have so much to give,” said Ms Woodward.
WCHN’s care teams are highly trained and follow precise protocols to successfully support organ donation.
“WCHN is committed to fulfilling our patient’s end-of-life wishes with compassion and integrity,” said Dawn Martin, RN, director of Patient Care Services at Danbury and New Milford Hospitals.
Ms Martin, an emergency nurse with more than 30 years of experience, has been working with NEDS for 20 years to ensure that registered organ donor patients have the best opportunity to donate.
Although 95 percent of US adults support organ donation, only 54 percent are registered organ donors. WCHN participates in the National Hospital Organ Donation Campaign, which aims to educate employees, patients, visitors, and the community about the crucial need for organ and tissue donation.
The campaign has helped to register nearly 400,000 people to state organ donor registries.
In 2017, Danbury and New Milford Hospitals each earned a Bronze Award and Norwalk Hospital earned Silver for the activities held within the hospitals and in the community to support the local organ donor registry.
For the 2018 National Donate Life Month artwork, Donate Life America was inspired by the image of a rainbow and Maya Angelou’s quote, “Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.”
Often following a storm, the presence of a rainbow provides optimism and motivates us to endure through dark times. Similarly, organ, eye, and tissue donation is the bridge of comfort and hope between one family’s mourning and another’s healing — turning tragedy into renewed life.
The vibrant Donate Life rainbow in the National Donate Life Month artwork rises from stormy clouds, recognizing that it takes both rain and light to create the gift of a rainbow.
Visit Donate Life America to learn more about organ and tissue donation. Register to give the gift of life at registerme.org, and if you are a Newtown resident, consider wearing blue and green on April 13 and learn more about the Donate Life initiative at the Municipal Center.