Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Transplant Center patients and donor families celebrate National Donate Life Month

Members of the Massachusetts General Hospital Transplant Center and the New England Organ Bank gathered on Tuesday to celebrate National Donate Life Month. Donor families and recipients shared their stories and passionately spoke of the importance of organ and tissue donation.

Alan Grossman, a heart transplant recipient at Mass General, expressed immense gratitude for his donor family and organ donation. When he was diagnosed with cardiac sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that can affect any part of the heart - from the electrical system to the valves and layers of tissue - he began a journey that ultimately led to a heart transplant.

"My son still has a father because of organ donation," explained Grossman.

National Donate Life Month recognizes the many people across the United States who generously saved others’ lives through organ and tissue donation. It also encourages Americans to sign up as donors and communicate this decision with their families.

Sandie Allsopp is proud of her 17-year-old daughter's choice to be an organ donor. After a fatal car accident, Brittany passed away at Mass General and generously donated her heart, lung, kidneys and skin to others waiting for life-saving transplants. Brittany’s kidney was donated to a teenage boy her own age.

"All the things that Brittany can’t do...he can do now," said Allsopp. Brittany will graduate college, get married and have children because she lives on through his life.

More than 2,800 patients in Massachusetts and 101,000 people in the United States are currently waiting for transplants. The Transplant Center team is working to reduce these numbers by encouraging others to sign up as organ and tissue donors. This week the Transplant Center team offered information to hospital visitors about organ donation and instructions on how to sign up through the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

HRSA Medal of Honor

During the Donate Life celebration, Rich Luskin, president and CEO of the New England Organ Bank, presented the Transplant Center with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s HRSA Medal of Honor for its outstanding achievements in organ donation.

A leader in promoting organ and tissue donation, Massachusetts General Hospital is one of the original founding members of the New England Organ Bank, the oldest organ bank in the United States, and the United Network of Organ Sharing.

Learn more about organ donation

Residents of Massachusetts can sign up by:

  • Visiting the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicle’s website
  • Indicating their wishes on their driver’s licenses or state identification cards
  • Talking openly with their families and friends about their wishes to be organ donors

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