By Katherine Skeldon, WV Metronews
A flag is being raised at Charleston Area Medical Center to bring awareness to April’s National Donate Life Month.
It’s an annual campaign to not only spread awareness of organ donation, but encourage people to become an organ donor, honor the deceased and living donors, and to celebrate the many lives that have been saved through receiving an organ transplant.
CAMC, a registered organ transplant center, will be joining other hospitals across the state and raising flags for the cause. On Friday, representatives from the CAMC Kidney Transplant Center, CAMC Donor Advisory Group, and the Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE) met in the rain to raise the Donate Life flag on the grounds outside the main hospital entrance.
West Virginia Community Outreach Coordinator with CORE, Cheryl King said only 36% of West Virginians are registered to be organ donors, while simultaneously, there are nearly 500 people in the state currently waiting to receive a transplant. King added that such a status needs to change.
“We need to get those numbers a little closer together so that we can have more people receiving the life-saving organs that they need,” said King.
King went on to say that there are many misconceptions behind what it takes to become an organ donor, as some people believe they might be too old to undergo the process, however, she said that is simply not the case. She recalled a man named Cecil Walker, who was 95-years-old when he gave his liver at CAMC to a woman who is now still alive because of it.
King said that all it takes is one organ donor to save several lives.
“One person can save up to 8 people, because you have 8 organs that you can donate,” she said.
King encourages everyone to consider becoming a donor, adding that it’s not only organs that can be of use.
“Everyone should sign up to be an organ donor, because, it’s not just organs, it’s also tissue and corneas, as well,” said King.
The month of April was chosen for the nationwide campaign in 2003, this year making its 20th anniversary. The Donate Life flag will stay up until the end of the month. King hopes that it will bring much awareness to support the cause.
“Hopefully people are seeing all of the different ads and things we have going on, and when they see that at this hospital or other hospitals then they know that, ‘Oh yeah, that’s about organ donation and transplantation, and I could sign up to be an organ donor,” King said.
While CAMC hopes to bring the numbers of organ dominations up, King said they had received over 900 organ transplants in 2022 alone.
People can sign up to become a donor by filling out a brief registration form.