ROCKFORD (WREX) — Local medical professionals are raising awareness about life-saving organ and tissue donations during the month of April.
Staff at UW Health SwedishAmerican Hospital raised a Donate Life flag Friday morning to recognize National Donate Life Month.
Observed in April every year, National Donate Life Month honors organ, tissue, and eye donors and raises awareness about the need for those donations, encouraging Americans to register as donors.
Ann Gantzer, Chief Nursing Officer at UW Health Northern Illinois, says it is important to recognize the importance of the donations.
“Right now, 106,000 people in the United States are waiting for an organ,” Gantzer says. “That’s a lot of people that we could positively impact their life.”
Gantzer says 4,033 people in Illinois and more than 1,500 in Wisconsin are on the waiting list. On average, 150 people are added to the organ transplant list in the United States every day.
UW Health says about 6,000 people die every year, about 17 people every day, because the organs they need are not available. Officials say anyone can be a donor, regardless of age, race, or medical history, adding that because conditions such as diabetes and hypertension are more prevalent in the multicultural community, these individuals make up more than half of those on the national organ transplant list.
Jennifer Vanderjack, a nurse at UW Health SwedishAmerican Hospital, says you cannot put a price on saving the live of people in need.
“You try to find that silver lining,” Vanderjack says. “For us, finding that silver lining meant to be able to help other people, and for us, we were able to donate tissue, eyes, and a lot of their organs were able to go to research to be able to better understand different disease processes.”
Experts say a single organ and tissue donor can save or help the lives of up to 50 people.
For more information on how to become a donor in Illinois, visit the Life Goes On Organ Tissue Donor Program website.