SOURCE: Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network

Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network

April 02, 2014 13:44 ET

Gift of Hope Calls on Public to Celebrate the Gift of Life During National Donate Life Month

Advocacy Events to Honor Those Touched by Donation, Urge People to Register as Donors

ITASCA, IL--(Marketwired - Apr 2, 2014) - Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network and other donation advocates in Illinois and northwest Indiana are honoring those touched by organ and tissue donation and working to spread the word about the importance of being a registered donor throughout April during National Donate Life Month. The month-long observance seeks to bring hope and life to the more than 5,400 people in Illinois and 1,500 people in Indiana now waiting for lifesaving organ transplants and to the thousands of others who will need life-enhancing tissue transplants at some point in their lives.

"Each year, the month of April is set aside as National Donate Life Month to recognize and celebrate people who make organ and tissue transplants possible -- donors, donor families, hospitals and transplant coordinators -- as well as the beneficiaries of their lifesaving work -- organ and tissue transplant recipients," said Kevin Cmunt, President/CEO of Gift of Hope. "It's also a time to celebrate, educate and advocate for the benefits that organ and tissue donation brings to people touched by donation."

Gift of Hope and its Donate Life Illinois partners are collaborating with hospitals, the Illinois Secretary of State's office, Fitness Formula Clubs and community organizations throughout Illinois and northwest Indiana to spread the donation message during the month. Here are just a few of the many National Donate Life Month activities and initiatives that Gift of Hope and donation advocates will take part in during the month:

  • An April 1 National Donate Life Month kick-off press conference led by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. He joined Cmunt and several people who have been touched by organ and tissue donation for the 10 a.m. event at Chicago's James R. Thompson Center to share inspiring stories of donation and introduce the Secretary's motivating television commercial that will air throughout April to educate people about donation and encourage them to register as donors.
  • Gift of Hope's annual 30 Stories in 30 Days Campaign will feature a personal story about donation posted on the Gift of Hope Blog every day in April. Organ and tissue transplant recipients and donor family members -- all of whom are Advocates for Hope volunteers for Gift of Hope -- will share their moving stories of hope and life throughout the month.
  • Donor registration drives will take place throughout the month at Fitness Formula Clubs locations throughout the metropolitan Chicago area. The premier event will take place at the Union Station location on Wednesday, April 16. At this event, donation advocate and 2013 FFC Year of Wellness Contest winner Quinetta Taylor will share her personal donation story. Secretary White and the Jesse White Tumblers also will appear at this event.
  • On April 13, Steve Ferkau, a double-organ transplant recipient, once again will lead his Kari's Klimbers team as they race to the top of Chicago's John Hancock Center during the annual Hustle Up the Hancock event. Ferkau and his team honor Kari, a young woman who gave new life to Ferkau in 2000 as a donor. This year will mark the 11th time Ferkau and his team of donation advocates have climbed 94 floors to the top of the John Hancock Center in Chicago in the Hustle up the Hancock. Since 2003, he and his team have raised nearly $300,000 to support the Respiratory Health Association, raise awareness and fund research towards curing lung diseases and raise public awareness of organ and tissue donation.
  • Gift of Hope's ongoing Hospitals for Hope Campaign will conduct a focused push in April to urge hospitals in Gift of Hope's Illinois and northwest Indiana service area to encourage their staff members to register as donors or reaffirm their existing donation decisions. Nearly 50 hospitals will participate in this month-long drive to boost donor registration numbers in Gift of Hope's service area.
  • Donation advocates throughout Illinois, northwest Indiana and across the country will celebrate National Blue & Green Day on April 11. On this day, people across the country are urged to wear blue and green clothing, jewelry, makeup or other fashion accessories in a focused effort to raise public awareness about organ and tissue donation and transplantation and encourage people to register as donors.

"Partnering with local organizations during National Donate Life Month and throughout the year is essential in our mission to reach as many Illinois and Indiana residents as possible with the donation message," Cmunt said. "More than 5.5 million people who are eligible to register as donors in Illinois have done so, but that's just 56 percent of all eligible registrants in the state. We still have a long way to go to get those remaining 4 million people to make the decision to save lives through donation."

A single organ donor can save up to nine lives, and when tissue donation is involved that single donor can save or enhance the lives of more than 25 people, Cmunt added. "Donor registration takes less than a minute, but that brief investment of time can offer a lifetime of hope to others. Registering as a donor is a simple, effective step that can have an extraordinary impact on dozens of people and their families. This month we ask Illinois and Indiana residents to take that first, crucial step in saving lives by registering as donors. Those who are already registered can do their part by educating their families, friends and coworkers on the impact donation can have on people's lives."

Illinois residents can register as donors at or Indiana residents can register at

About Gift of Hope
Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network is a not-for-profit organ procurement organization entrusted by the nation's healthcare system with coordinating organ and tissue donation and providing donor family services and public education in Illinois and northwest Indiana. Since 1987, it has coordinated donations that have saved the lives of nearly 20,000 organ transplant recipients and improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of tissue transplant recipients. As one of 58 organ procurement organizations that make up the nation's organ and tissue donation system, Gift of Hope works with 180 donor hospitals and serves 12 million residents in its donation service area. To learn more about organ, eye and tissue donation, or to register as an organ and tissue donor, visit

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