The approaching Labor Day weekend is a signal that summer is winding down, but some big Donate Life events are in full swing!
Just yesterday, Donor Network West cheered on the San Francisco Giants for Donate Life Day at AT&T Park. It was the 19th time the Orange and Black have highlighted the life-saving and healing power of organ and tissue donation. Heart recipient Izzy Martin was the Junior Announcer; double-lung recipient Isabel Stenzel Byrnes and heart recipient AJ Reyes served as Ball Dudes; and six-year-old Ailee Binauhan, a liver recipient at just six months old, kicked off the game as the Play Ball Kid.
Dodgers’ fans will see some green mixed in with their Dodger blue this Saturday when Dodger Stadium hosts OneLegacy Ambassadors Night. You don’t have to be a OneLegacy Ambassador (or even a Dodgers fan – Go Padres!) to attend. For more information and to buy tickets, go to dodgers.com/OneLegacy. Don’t forget to wear your blue and green!
If you’re in northern California, Donor Network West is hosting its 6th annual Donate Life Run/Walk next weekend on Saturday, Sept. 10 at Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek. I’m lacing up my running shoes, so be sure to say “hi” as you pass me by on the course. All participants get a special “Be Fit. Be Strong. Be a Donor.” t-shirt and a participant medal. For more information and to register, go to 5k.dnwest.org.
Each of these events, and the many more from our OPO partners throughout the year, serve multiple and very important purposes. They are great public awareness campaigns, especially at high-profile events like baseball games. Most people just are not aware that transplant recipients live and work among them. As we know, nothing inspires people to register to be donors more than hearing stories from transplant recipients and donor families!
These events are also fundraisers to support organ and tissue donation education and outreach efforts in places like local high schools, at DMVs, and in hospitals. We and our partners work throughout the year to reach as many people as we can to teach and show them why organ and tissue donation is so important – for individuals, families and their communities.
For DMV staff and OPO recovery and hospital transplant personnel who attend, these events allow them to see the benefits of their work. They get to step outside of their offices and hospitals to visit the donor families and recipients. These interactions reinvigorate their passion for the work they do to save, heal and transform lives.
Perhaps most meaningful is that these events help create a sense of community for donor families and recipients. It’s a unique support system where others share experiences much like their own. Donor families feel comfortable openly talking about their loved ones and the grief that comes with their loss. And, they get to share their pride in knowing their loved ones saved and healed lives. Recipients can also relate to each other and share their transplant challenges and triumphs and how their lives have changed. Both donor families and recipients gain new perspective in learning about the other side of the donation and transplant coin. Many times, they go home with a new sense of comfort and appreciation for their own and others’ donation and transplant journeys.
If you haven’t had a chance to attend a Donate Life event near you, we hope you’ll keep an eye on our Event Calendar and join us when you can.
In the meantime, have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend!
Eric Burch is CEO of Donate Life California, the state’s nonprofit organ, eye and tissue donor registry. His lifelong passion for healthcare began when he worked as an EMT his senior year in high school. With his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science and public administration from San Diego State University, Eric has worked in health-related government relations and public affairs. He’s also served on numerous boards and committees, including his current stint as a member of the Tri-City Healthcare District Governance and Legislative Committee. In his spare time, Eric is an adjunct professor at National University.