April marks Organ Donation Month

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Kristina Wyman's picture
Bethany Sampson

April 1st marks the start of the 11th Annual National Donate Life Month.

Donate Life’s symbol, a kite, is meant to represent hope and celebration, while also connoting springtime.

“Spring is a season of new life that calls to mind the many men, women and children whose lives have been saved or healed by organ, eye and tissue donation,” said the Donate Life America website.
Assumption College’s Dean of Students Robert Ravenelle has been personally affected by organ donation. More than 30 years ago, Ravenelle’s brother had battled cancer. In the 1990s, he began to feel the effects of the chemotherapy and, by 2001, his kidneys were failing.

In 2006, Ravenelle explored the option of donating a kidney to his brother. The day before the organ donation was supposed to take place, the brothers received the news that Ravenelle’s kidney was not a compatible transplant for his brother, and his brother’s body would reject the kidney.

In October of that year, the brothers began to look further into The New England Paired Kidney Exchange.

NEPKE is for those who have a willing yet incompatible donor. It “facilitates two and three way matches (closed chains) with all transplants being done simultaneously.”

In January 2007, they received the news that a woman’s planned kidney donation had fallen through, but she was still determined to donate. The woman was moved into a pool where she was then matched with a young man in need of a kidney. The young man’s mother gave to Ravenelle’s brother, and Ravenelle gave to someone who was on the waiting list for a kidney.

Through this chain connection, Ravenelle was able to donate a kidney, and Ravenelle’s brother was able to receive a kidney.

This life-altering procedure is what prompted Ravenelle and his brother to get involved with organ bank volunteering.

Kidneys, liver segments and lung lobes can be transplanted from living donors. Additionally, living donors can donate blood. Heart, liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, pancreases, bone, skin, corneas, tissues, heart valves and much more can be transplanted from the deceased.

By registering with Donate Life New England, “you consent to donate your organs and tissues at the time of your death.”

Additionally, willing donors can also register to be a member of the National Kidney Registry, which matches living donors to recipients in need.

According to Donate Life America, currently there are more than 120,000 men, women and children awaiting organ transplants in the U.S. alone.

In October 2013, Ravenelle raised money for Donate Life when he ran the Marine Corps Marathon. He was just joined by Assistant Director of Student Activities, Alex Paterson.

“Years ago one of my second cousins who had type one diabetes had a pancreas transplant to help maintain her glucose levels without insulin,” said Paterson. “Knowing that there are over 100,000 people waiting for a transplant and that there is a chance myself or someone I’m close to could need a transplant really inspired me to wear the ‘Donate Life’ shirt on race day.”

“Donate life,” said Ravenelle. “If you listen to the stories of people who have been impacted by organ donation, you would say ‘why wouldn’t I do that?’”
“I have always said, if I could, I would give another kidney,” said Ravenelle.

To register, visit donatelifenewengland.org/register. Many Departments of Motor Vehicles also offer the opportunity to register to be a part of Donate Life.

National Blue & Green Day is Friday, April 11, and all are encouraged to wear blue and green to show support and spread awareness of organ, eye and tissue donation.
A Red Cross blood drive will be held at Assumption College in the Hagan Campus Center on April 15 from 2 to 8 p.m.

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