This month, LVMC is specifically promoting National Donate Life Month. Working closely with representatives from Donate Life/One Legacy, LVMC medical and nursing staff have facilitated numerous tissue donations, including skin, heart valve, bones, corneas, and pericardiums.
While our medical and nursing staff is dedicated to healing bodies and saving lives, some times the outcome leads to contacting Donate Life and its counselors. Working hand-in-hand with families, loved ones and Donate Life representatives, our staff is deeply invested in ensuring the wishes of the deceased person are carried out legally. Chief Executive Officer Jim Raggio says that LVMC honors the lives of those who have given and received, and the hospital district renews its commitment to saving lives and encouraging everyone to register as an organ and tissue donor.
The numbers of organ and tissue registrants have increased in our state. In California, as of the end of March, there were 13,749,599 organ and tissue registrants.
That’s critical, as one in five people on the U.S. organ transplant waiting list lives in California. And in Santa Barbara County, about 200 people are on the wait list for organ and tissue donations. Each day in the U.S., 22 people die waiting because the organ they needed did not come available in time. Organs needed for transplant are heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas or intestine. More than a million tissue transplants are done each year, and the surgical need for tissue has been on the rise.
Donate Life’s symbol this year for National Donate Life Month is a blue and green pinwheel.
According to Donate Life California, the pinwheel is symbolic of an instrument that turns obstacles into opportunities. The organization says the pinwheel’s ability to capture and pass on energy parallels one’s potential to make life possible. “Each Donate Life pinwheel has four sails supported by one stem, symbolizing the power one person has to be an organ, eye, tissue or living donor. The pinwheel reminds us that we all have the potential to capture and pass on life, comfort and hope to others by registering as a donor,” Donate Life states.
Donate Life California spreads information about organ and tissue donations to combat misconceptions. For instance, one organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people by donating his heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas and small bowel; about 80 organ transplants take place in the U.S. every day; Patients are matched with a donor depending on the severity of their illness, body size, tissue type, blood type and other important medical information; on average, one tissue donor can save or enhance the lives of up to 50 people by donating corneas, skin, bones, and heart valves, among others; over 40,000 patients have their sight restored every year through cornea transplants; a living donor can provide a kidney or a portion of their liver, lung, pancreas or intestine; there is no cost to the donor or their family for donation. Also, Donation should not delay or change funeral arrangements; every major religion in the United States supports organ, eye, and tissue donation as one of the highest expressions of compassion and generosity and finally, organ, eye, and tissue transplants offer patients a new chance at healthy, productive, and normal lives and return them to their families.
Some of Lompoc’s greatest organ and tissue ambassadors are the families of the late Stephanie Kazianka. Mrs. Kazianka died at LVMC on March 9, 2011, at the age of 60 from cardiac abnormalities. Mrs. Kazianka gave the gift of her kidneys, corneas, and tissue. Her donations are credited with helping about 50 people, including a 63-year-old woman who received one kidney. Mrs. Kazianka’s daughter, Katy Wallace, said her mother wanted to be a donor. “The thing that gets me through it, whoever got a part of my mom got a steel spine,” Katy said several years ago of her mother, who was a foster parent to more than 50 children. “She was the anchor of our family.” The organ and tissue donations, Katy said, “are the only way for me to make her death worth something and to help my mom’s memory go on. Everybody grieves, and we’re keeping her legacy going. She raised us with a firm grip but she was an amazing woman.”
She credits her mother for making the decision to become a donor, and for speaking to her family about her choice. “I didn’t have to make the decision,” Katy said thankfully. “Have the discussion with your family.” On April 21, LVMC will participate in Donate Life’s “Blue and Green Day,” to show support for the cause. We will encourage staff to wear blue and green – ties, shoes, scarves, jewelry or anything else appropriate.
For more information on tissue and organ donation, and how you can register, log onto www.donatelifecalifornia.org.