National Donor Day observed on Feb. 14

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Joyce Cantrell, a native of Morgan County, Kentucky, has a sweet smile that makes one feel so comfortable.

Feb. 14 is not only Valentine’s Day but also National Donor Day, which serves as a reminder of the importance of discussing with your loved ones the life-saving possibilities of organ and tissue donation.

Roger Schott, Circuit Court Clerk in Laurel County, said, “We hope everyone will use National Donor Day as a time to discuss organ and tissue donation with those closest to you. Together, through spreading the word and educating others about donation, we can take small steps each day toward saving more lives.”

In Kentucky, one can join the Kentucky Donor Registry at the Circuit Court Clerk’s offices in each of Kentucky’s 120 counties or online at www.donatelifeky where one can learn about the Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust for Life, Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, and the Kentucky Lions Eye Bank.

The need for organ and tissue donation is ongoing. Currently in the United States, there are more than 113,000 people awaiting a life-saving transplant, with nearly 1,000 of those people living in Kentucky. Each day, 22 people die while awaiting a transplant.

As an observance, National Donor Day was started in 1998 by the Saturn Corporation and its United Auto Workers partners, with the support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and many nonprofit health organizations.

National Donor Day is a time to focus on all types of donation that can help others including blood donations. Also, it is a wonderful time to think about those people who have given the gift of donation, have received a donation, are currently waiting on a transplant or did not receive an organ in time.

“Valentine’s Day (and every day) is the perfect day to register as an organ and tissue donor,” said Schott. “Joining one’s state donor registry is a commitment to saving and healing lives. Sometimes starting the conversation can be difficult but National Donor Day is an annual observance that can help. Joining the donor registry is an amazing opportunity to give someone else a second chance at life through donation.”

Joyce Cantrell, a native of Morgan County, Kentucky, has a sweet smile that makes one feel so comfortable. Unfortunately, the worst of health problems can affect even the best of people. Cantrell spent several years battling congestive heart failure and arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat. To overcome each hurdle, she tried a variety of treatments and medicines, even a pacemaker defibrillator implant.

While she had short term success with her pacemaker, she soon learned that the only real solution was a heart transplant. “This is something I would have never dreamed of. In that moment, it sounded unreal that I needed this to live.”

After Cantrell’s name was added to the waiting list, nearly seven months passed before she was presented with a glimpse of hope. At 64 years old, Cantrell answered the phone to what would be the call that changed her life. Cantrell quickly packed her bags and arrived at her transplant hospital.

“I am doing great and can do more than I could before! I play with my grandson, walk more, and go anywhere I want to,” Cantrell said. She now fully understands the power of organ donation. “My son was registered as an organ donor before this ever happened to me, but I honestly hadn’t thought a lot about it. Once you have been through this process yourself, it makes it so much more personal. It hits home.”

Her attitude is incredible. To this day, Cantrell is smiling and making others feel so loved. “If I can help someone in any way, I am more than happy to.”

The financial donations at Circuit Court Clerks’ Driver’s License counters and other philanthropic partners, including KODA and Kosair Charities, fund the statewide community outreach and public relations efforts to grow the Registry. Kentucky was recently recognized by Donate Life America for major increases in Registry rates.

For more information, call 1-866-945-5433, email info@trustforlife.org or visit www.trustforlife.org. To join the Kentucky Donor Registry online as a potential organ and tissue donor, go to www.donatelifeky.org.

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