COLUMBIA, Mo. — University of Missouri Health Care will join Midwest Transplant Network and Heartland Lions Eye Banks in celebrating the lives of local organ donors and transplant recipients at a special Donate Life Month ceremony at noon, Friday, April 20, in the MU School of Medicine’s J. Otto Lottes Health Sciences Library atrium and Acuff Auditorium.
The event will also celebrate the 40th anniversary of the renal transplant program at University Hospital. The first kidney transplant at University Hospital occurred on Feb. 11, 1972. Since then, more than 1,000 patients have benefited from transplantation through the hospital program.
“Each year, this event brings together donor families and recipients to meet and share their stories of how their lives were changed through donation and transplantation,” said Lori Kramer Clark, hospital services coordinator for Midwest Transplant Network.
“We have an outstanding transplantation program, and our collaborative efforts with Midwest Transplant Network are providing the gift of life through organ donation and transplantation,” said Mark Wakefield, M.D., a urologist and director of University Hospital’s renal transplant program.
During the event, local donor families and transplant recipients will share their powerful stories of how organ, tissue and eye donation have touched their lives. Guests attending the event can register for the Missouri Organ and Tissue Donor Registry.
Donor families participating in the event will make a two-dimensional decorated flower in memory of their loved ones that will be displayed in a shadow box in the University Hospital lobby. University of Missouri Health Care’s 2010 donor families will be presented a rose in recognition of their loved ones’ entry in the 2012 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
More than 28,000 lives are saved each year in the United States through the gift of organ donation. However, the need for transplantation continues to outpace the availability of organs. Nationally, more than 110,000 people are currently awaiting a life-saving transplant.
Donate Life America began a campaign in January titled “20 Million in 2012.” The initiative encourages the creation of a donor-friendly America. The goal is to achieve 20 million new state donor registry enrollments nationwide in 2012. As part of Donate Life Month, April 20 has also been designated “Wear Your Blue & Green Day” in support of organ, tissue and eye donation.
“Donate Life Month reminds all of us of the importance of joining Missouri’s Organ and Tissue Donor Registry,” said Kramer Clark. “Joining the registry is a selfless act that could forever change the life of a transplant recipient. A single organ and tissue donor can save and enhance the lives of more than 50 people.”
Missouri residents are encouraged to learn more about becoming donors by visiting the Midwest Transplant Network’s Web site at www.mwtn.org or signing up for the Missouri donor registry at www.missouriorgandonor.com.
Midwest Transplant Network is an organ procurement organization. Founded in 1973, its mission is to provide quality transplantation-related services that will maximize the availability of organs and tissues to the community. The not-for-profit corporation serves Kansas and western Missouri.
Heartland Lions Eye Banks is a division of the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation with the mission to preserve and restore sight. Based in Columbia, Mo., Heartland Lions Eye Banks operates throughout Missouri and in parts of Illinois and Kansas, providing tissue corneal transplants worldwide.
As one of the state’s premier academic medical centers, University of Missouri Health Care provides highly specialized, multidisciplinary care to patients with the most severe illnesses and injuries from every county in the state.