Kathy Lewis is alive today because someone signed their driver’s license as an organ donor. Nine years ago she received a kidney transplant and shares her story with others to help raise awareness about the countless lives affected by transplant and donation.
“The first thing I do every morning when I get up is thank my donor for the gift of another day,” said Lewis, of Michigan City. “But there are many out there still waiting for the gift of life. I encourage everyone to be a registered donor and share your wishes with your family. What a legacy you can leave for others.”
Recipients shared their emotional and honest stories Wednesday, April 6 at Porter Regional Hospital in observance of National Donate Life Month. During the ceremony, Porter’s CEO Steve Lunn read the Donate Life Proclamation as a Donate Life flag was raised outside the hospital’s main entrance.
Lunn encouraged everyone to become an organ, eye or tissue donor and thanked the recipients. “You inspire folks and give people hope,” he said.
According to Donate Life America, there are more than 121,000 Americans and more than 1,300 Hoosiers who are currently waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. The month-long celebration honors the generosity of organ, eye and tissue donors and their families and commemorates all transplant recipients in the United States.
Mike Smothers, a retired family medicine physician of 33 years, spoke about receiving his kidney from a living donor – his daughter’s boyfriend.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity that young man gave me,” shared Smothers, of Elkhart. “I have a two-year-old grandson now, and I’ve been able to do all the grandfatherly things like go to Disney World that you wouldn’t be able to do on dialysis.”
Hearing the testimonials of gratitude moved Porter employee Ruth Woodhall to tears. Ruth knows the importance of organ donation first hand, giving a kidney to her cousin nearly 10 years ago.
“Being a living donor is probably one of the greatest things I’ve ever done,” she said. “I wish more people would step up and do it. Education is key.”
Jessica Gnoth, Professional Services Coordinator for the Indiana Donor Network, said since 2003 the month of April has been recognized as a time to honor donor heroes and their families for the gifts they have given as well as spread awareness. “So many lives are touched by donation,” she said.
Donor registrations were available after the ceremony in the hospital cafeteria.
For more information about the Indiana Donor Network or to register as a donor, visit http://indianadonornetwork.org/
Porter Health Care System has two hospital campuses and seven outpatient facilities serving Porter, Lake, LaPorte, Starke and Jasper counties. With more than 350 physicians representing 50 medical specialties, Porter Health Care System is committed to medical excellence and personalized, patient-centered care. Porter is directly or indirectly owned by a partnership that proudly includes physician owners, including certain members of the hospital’s medical staff.