The legacy left behind by organ, tissue, and cornea donors is something to honor every day, however April marks a particularly special time to celebrate. Donate Life Month is a national initiative focused on thanking those who make donation possible, recognizing the second chance at life provided to transplant recipients, and bringing the donation community together to raise awareness about the importance of organ, eye, and tissue donation.
Currently, there are more than 120,000 people on the transplant waiting list in the United States. Nearly 3,000 of those in need of a life-saving transplant reside in our service area of Alaska, Montana, North Idaho, and Washington state. The need is great, but so is the hope that comes from each and every donation. Donation provides hope for both the transplant recipients and for the donor families who know that their loved one left behind a lasting legacy.
For the 2016 National Donate Life Month artwork, Donate Life America was inspired by the mighty sunflower. It’s difficult to overlook their stature and bright color. A sunflower’s orange-yellow hue evokes feelings of optimism, warmth, and cheerfulness. Often found in fields, they stand confident, sheltering each other and following the light throughout their lives.
Look a little closer and you will notice that one sunflower’s face contains as many as 2,000 seeds. With these, it has the potential to create an entirely new field of flowers. We each have a similar potential to give life when we register our decision to become an organ, eye and tissue donor. One organ donor can save and heal the lives of up to eight people through organ donation and countless others through tissue donation. A chance at new life gives beyond the recipient. Just as a new field of sunflowers brings comfort and happiness to those that come into contact with it, so does a loved one’s gift of donation to his or her family and friends.
Through life and its struggles, the sunflower reminds us to lean on each other and embrace the life-giving aspects of our lives. It reminds us to live with joy, to focus on the light even during difficult times, and to give freely to save the lives of others when we are gone.