The month of April means more than a new season of warm weather and rainy days—it’s National Donate Life Month!
Donate Life Month is sponsored by Donate Life America. So what does it mean to donate life? Is it really that easy to save a life with a simple donation?
Donate Life America (or DLA) is a non-profit organization committed to increasing the number of organ, eye and tissue donations necessary for saving and healing lives throughout the United States.
DLA was founding in 1992 and is based out of Virginia and engages in a variety of measures in order to improve and save the lives of many. DLA manages Donate Life, which is the national brand for the donation cause. It also promotes the donation of organ, eyes and tissue to the public. Lastly, it provides education about what this donation entails, operates the National Donation Life Registry at RegisterMe.org.
Over the past 25 years, DLA has registered almost 138 million organ, eye and tissue donors in the United States, which is about 56% of the American adult population!
What is Donate Life Month?
According to the website for DLA, “National Donate Life Month (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.”
Donate Life Month was started by DLA in 2003. For 2018, the National Donate Life Month and inspired and themed around the following Maya Angelou quote: “Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.”
In the words of DLA, “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.”
This theme knows no background or experience—this is a message that applies to us all. The rainbow represents a person who is supportive and instrumental in helping people through some of life’s worst challenges. That person can be you and me. We have the ability to dramatically change the life of someone who is going through incredibly difficult times.
DLA encourages both registering to be a donor and considering a living donation. During National Donate Life Month, DLA aims to spreading this encouraging message and increasing the number of both of these measures.
Through educating the public and promoting this promising message, National Donate Life Month can make a real difference between life and death for many, many people.
Why Does Donate Life Month Matter?
Organ, tissue and eye donation is often not on the minds of many people until something happens to them. Part of DLA’s job is to spread awareness and knowledge of this issue. They have compiled some very gripping statistics that can quickly motivate taking action.
For instance, the DLA explains, “115,000 men and women and children await lifesaving organ transplants. Even the largest football stadium in the US could not fit the number of patients on the national transplant waiting list.”
Another way of understanding the gravity of this statistic is that every 10 minutes another person is added to the national transplant waiting list.
Additionally, 8,00 deaths occur every single year in the United States due to organs not being donated in time. That’s 22 people every single day!
82% of these patients are waiting on a kidney.
However, there is some inspiring statistics as well. In 2016, 33,600 transplants brought new life to patients and their families. And since 1988, 683,000 transplants have taken place!
Lastly, 95% of Americans are in favor of being a donor, but only 54% of them are registered! Only a quick, simple action is required in order to get on the national registry. Together, we can help bridge the gap between 54% and 95%.
How Can I Get Involved?
If the message of, “Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud” and the troubling statistics about donation registry and live donation motivate you to get involved with National Donate Life Month, you may be asking, “What can I do now?”
Luckily, DLA has compiled a list of relatively simple measures that anyone can take.
The first thing you can do to take part in Donate Life Month is to make sure you are registered on the Donate Life Registries. This ensure that if you die and your organs, tissue or eyes are eligible for donation, they can quickly and efficiently be donated to those who need them.
Next, you can spread the word! You can do this in a variety of different ways. DLA has provided 4 strategies with materials and instructions. You can choose to do one or all of them.
First, DLA has compiled two informational handouts. The first handout includes donation and transplantation statistics with updated data on the status of donations and transplantations. The second includes donation and transplantation FAQs, which includes answers to some of the most common questions about organ, tissue and eye donation.
These handouts can be used during organized events, announcements, or discussions. They can also be used to quickly inform yourself and others about the importance of this issue.
Secondly, DLA has created print ad PDFs in 8” x 10” format. These ads can be submitted to community newsletters or newspapers. Additionally, you can print these out and place them on bulletins at your place of worship, high school, college or place of work.
Thirdly, on the DLA website, you can find a Print Your Own Rainbow worksheet. These are print-outs that have 4 4” x 4” rainbows with the following customizable messages: “____ supports organ, eye and tissue donation”, “____ is a registered donor”, “In memory of _____”, and “In honor of _____”.
These are great tools during group activities or discussions.
The last way that you can help spread the word during National Donate Life Month is through social media! DLA provides several media graphics that you can use on your Facebook cover photo, profile image or on Twitter and Instagram. You can also use the hashtag #DonateLifeMonth.
No matter what strategy you use to spread awareness about Donate Life Month, you could be saving a life and making a big difference in the world! To learn more, visit www.donatelife.net.