April is designated as National Donate Life Month, a time when communities across the country generate attention to the mass shortage of organs and tissue for patients in need through various activities and events, and encourage individuals to become organ and tissue donors.
On Sept. 30, 2016, City of Chicago member Chesley Rickman received a long-awaited and successful kidney transplant at the University of Chicago Hospital after going through eight years of dialysis. He spent a few days in the hospital and was able to return to work on Nov. 10, 2016.
“I’m feeling and doing great now,” said Chesley. “Everyone should consider being an organ donor as it would help out so many other people.”
According to data provided by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, there are approximately 4,700 people in Illinois on the waiting list for an organ transplant. More than 80 percent are waiting for a kidney and about 12 percent are waiting for a liver.
Teamsters Local 700 President Becky Strzechowski is an altruistic organ donor, having donated a kidney to a total stranger in 2011 through the National Kidney Registry and Loyola University Hospital’s Pay It Forward program.
“There is an overwhelming need for organ donors across the country and in our state,” said President Strzechowski. “While it might not be possible for everyone to become a living donor, we can all become heroes by making the choice to donate life to save someone else’s life down the road.”
Sign up to be an organ donor
The Illinois Secretary of State’s office created a website (linked through CyberDriveIllinois.com) called LifeGoesOn.com, where drivers can register themselves to be organ donors and learn about the statistics of organ donation in our state. Illinois drivers can also check the box to become an organ donor when renewing or first obtaining a driver’s license.
Preserving organs: Did you know?
Donated organs require special methods of preservation to keep them viable between the time of procurement and transplantation. Common maximum organ preservation times include:
- Kidney: 24-36 hours
- Pancreas: 12-18 hours
- Liver: 8-12 hours
- Heart or Lung: 4-6 hours
Donate Life America is a not-for-profit alliance of national organizations and state teams across the United States committed to increasing organ, eye, and tissue donation. To learn more about Donate Life America, visit donatelife.net.