Published on April 15, 2021

Friday is National Donate Life Day to Honor Organ Donors

By Christie Netherton, Messenger-Inquirer

Friday is National Donate Life Green and Blue Day to promote organ donation and honor those who have donated organs and recipients of organ donation.

April is also National Donate Life Month. 

Sarah Spicer, family and partnership services liaison with Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, said the KODA works with local hospitals, including Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, as well as the circuit court clerk and county coroners to help build the organ donor registry. 

“We work together to not only promote organ donation but to build the registry and hopefully raise awareness for those who are waiting because every year, many people die waiting on the waitlist and what we do every day is to help lessen the wait," she said.

Earlier this week at OH, Spicer said a flag was raised in honor of National Donate Life Month. The flag is also raised every time there is an organ donor at the facility. 

Spicer said KODA works to provide support for families through the entire process of organ donation. At OH, organ donor families are also given the option to participate in an honor walk for their loved one to pay respect for their “gift of life.” 

The honor walk is when hospital staff and the critical care team of the patient have an opportunity to stand in the hallway as the patient and their family take the path from critical care to the operating room for organ retrieval, according to Joni Sims, OH vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer.

“It’s a powerful way for the family to say goodbye. It is an opportunity for the care team who is taking care of that patient and have grown to know and love that patient,” she said. “It is an amazing experience just to be able to honor that person as they make their last journey through the hospital.”

OH held its first honor walk in honor of an organ donor and their family in 2019, according to Spicer. 

“It is very emotional, especially for families because they know at the end of that walk their loved one is going to be the hero that they always knew they were and they will also go on to give that ultimate gift of life,” she said.

Spicer said during 2020, OH had eight organ donors, 20 organs transplanted, five going to research, as well as 17 tissue donors and 15 cornea donors.

“In 2020, even during this pandemic, which has been so challenging in so many ways, they (OH) have had an increase in the number of people who are being organ donors,” she said.

About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital; Owensboro Health Twin Lakes Medical Center; the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 200 providers at more than 20 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a surgical weight loss center and program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.

On average each year, we have 16,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 24,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 200 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 70,000 Emergency Department visits, more than a million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.