SPOKANE, Wash. - According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as of the beginning of the 2019 there were more than 113,000 men, women and children on the national transplant waiting list.
Of those, roughly 20 die each day waiting as last year there were just of 36,500 transplants done.
Its a statistic that is brought to light each April as part of "Donate Life" month, to highlight the need for more donors.
Sacred Heart notes the importance of becoming an organ or tissue donor and flies the flag honoring those that have given in death and their families as well year round.
"It is a gift that is so selfless because you really don't know where it goes," said Becky Nappi, Sacred Heart's Mission Integration Director, "For the families, it is the worst day of their life, of course it is, they lost a loved one, but they can look back and say it turned beautiful in a way because of the donation."
The hospital has long given out quilts to family members of organ donors, a tradition started by one of their financial analysts, turned volunteer quilt maker, who handmade the quilts in the beginning and now has them made because of the quantity.
Each quilt is embroidered with a touching quote, the green ribbon recognizing donors, and a space is left for the hand print of each donor to be added.
"The quote is by John Wooden and says 'you can never do a perfect day without doing something for someone who can never repay you," said Brenda Bodeau. "The person never gets to meet the recipients, but they live on. In my brothers case he will have been gone 20 years in October, but he lives on."
The hospital has also begun a new tradition, an honor walk for the donors, as their body is lead from the ICU to surgery.
"There are busy doctors, nurses, administrators, front line care givers, lined up in the hallways completely silent as they wait for the donor to go by," said Nappi, "the tears and sadness but joy in the gratitude is something I've never seen anything like at Sacred Heart."
While the decision to become a donor shouldn't be forced on anyone, as it is a very personal decision, Nappi says the recipients she's spoken with understand the chance they've been given.
"They always say it renews in them a quest for living the fullest life they can," she said, "they say they never take anything for granted again."
Each donor can save up to eight lives. A new person is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes.
At Sacred Heart and Holy Family, they had 34 organ donors, that saved upwards of 124 lives.
They also had 45 tissue donors providing 5,625 grafts.
For more information on organ donation statistics click here.
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