HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- While many commemorate Valentine's Day with cards, candy and flowers, Pennsylvanians are encouraged to give the ultimate gift of love by signing up to become organ and tissue donors. With the support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Valentine's Day has been designated as National Organ Donor Day to raise awareness of the lives that can be touched -- potentially more than 50 at a time --through one person becoming an organ and tissue donor.
Organ and tissue donation can free people from dialysis treatments, give sight, repair joints or save limbs, help burn victims heal and most importantly save lives. These acts benefit not only the recipient but also their family and friends. In Pennsylvania, nearly 7,900 people are awaiting an organ transplant, while tens of thousands of others wait for a tissue transplant.
"While there is public support for organ and tissue donation, we need more individuals to take that next step of registering to be a donor," said state Health Secretary Everette James. "Every 11 minutes, a new name is added to the national organ waiting list, yet less than 50 percent of eligible Pennsylvanians are designated organ and tissue donors. We want to remind our residents that in the time it takes to order flowers for Valentine's Day, you could register and potentially save up to 50 lives."
"Registering to be an organ and tissue donor is simple," said Kurt J. Myers, PennDOT's Deputy Secretary for Safety Administration. "In a mere 90 seconds, Pennsylvanians can add the organ donor designation to their driver's licenses or state identification cards by visiting www.donatelife-pa.org. Prior to the online service, most residents waited until their driver's licenses or identification cards were up for renewal every four years before thinking about adding the organ donor designation. The online service makes it easy for Pennsylvanians to show they are willing to give the gift of life."
Although 85 percent of the commonwealth's residents support organ donation, and there is strong support from healthcare professionals and all organized religions, in Pennsylvania only about 45 percent of eligible individuals have placed the organ donor designation on their driver's license or state identification card. Fewer still have discussed the issue with their families.
Howard M. Nathan and Susan Stuart, the presidents and CEO's of Pennsylvania's two organ procurement organizations -- Gift of Life in Philadelphia and CORE (Center for Organ Recovery and Education in Pittsburgh), respectively -- know that education and awareness are essential to encouraging people to sign up to be donors.
"There are more than 6,000 men, women and children in our region who are waiting for a life-saving transplant," said Nathan. "We offer a wide variety of educational resources and tools for businesses, schools, colleges and universities, churches and synagogues, to help them increase awareness about the critical need for life-saving organs and tissues for transplant."
Stuart added, "There are many faces of donation. Some are the faces of people waiting for a life-saving or life-enhancing transplant. Some are those who can enjoy another day because someone said 'yes' to donation. I urge everyone to sign up today to give the gift of life and love by saying yes to donation."
Sign up to be an organ and tissue donor today by visiting www.donatelife-pa.org because Life Begins with You.
CORE is a regional not-for-profit agency that is the primary call center and intermediary for the organ recovery and allocation process that serves 155 hospitals and more than six million people in western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Chemung County in New York. CORE has helped to pioneer organ procurement allocation and recovery for this region since it was founded in 1977 as the Pittsburgh Transplant Foundation. For more information visit www.core.org
About Gift of Life Donor Program
Since 1974, Gift of Life Donor Program has served as the link between donors and patients awaiting life-saving transplants in the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. In that tenure, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 29,000 life-saving organ transplants and hundreds of thousand tissue transplants. For more information, visit www.donors1.org
Life Begins with You Campaign
The Life Begins with You campaign is a collaborative initiative between Gift of Life Donor Program (GOL), the Center for Organ & Recovery Education (CORE) – the two organ procurement organizations serving Pennsylvania – and the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Transportation. It is funded by state residents through voluntary contributions included with driver's license renewals, vehicle registrations and state income tax filings. All contributions are used by the Governor Robert P. Casey Memorial Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Trust Fund to educate residents, build awareness about the importance of organ and tissue donation, and increase the number of people who sign up to become donors on their driver's license, learner's permit or state identification card.
One Extraordinary Way to Say Love Life.
When you choose to become an organ and tissue donor, you have the power to give the most precious gift – life. Join the nearly four million Pennsylvanians who have said "yes" to organ and tissue donation by adding the donor designation to your driver's license, learner's permit or state identification card. Sign up to be an organ and tissue donor today by visiting www.donatelife-pa.org because Life Begins with You.
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