Each of the approximately 30 people that attended Baptist Health Corbin’s ceremony commemorating “National Donate Life Month” held last Thursday near the hospital’s surgery entrances, was asked to draw a stone from a basket.
Written on each stone was an organ or tissue that thousands of people across the Commonwealth, the country and the world are awaiting in hopes of being a transplant recipient.
The stones were then placed at the base of the flagpole outside the hospital where the “Donate Life” flag flies beside the U.S. and Kentucky flags.
Along with kidney, heart, liver and lung, several of the rocks simply said “tissue.”
Officials with the Kentucky Circuit Courts Clerks’ Trust for Life explained that tissue covers a multitude of things including: tendons, blood vessels, bone and the cornea of the eyes.
“They are all the things that may enhance a recipient’s life,” said Francis Click with the Trust for Life.
Click admitted that while donor’s families are willing to donate the organs, they might be reluctant when it comes to donating tissue, especially the eyes.
Click explained that the only portion of the eye that is taken is the cornea.
“It is about the thickness of a Kleenex similar to a contact lens,” Click explained adding that removing it does not alter the appearance of the deceased’s eyes.
“That is the very first thing I would want to be taken from me,” Click said.
Hospital Chaplain Tammy Schmidt read an anonymous letter from an individual that received a kidney transplant because of someone that was generous enough to offer one of their kidneys.
In the letter, the recipient explained that she spent more than a year on dialysis while waiting for the donor to be sure of the decision and attend to some personal business.
“I’m pretty sure I still haven’t wrapped my mind around the selflessness of the donor,” the writer said explaining that the donor was about the same age, working, going to college and a mother of two.
“She was a stranger willing to alter her life for me,” The writer noted. “This is a big deal because in today’s world we barely give time to each other.”
“I felt 100 percent more alive,” the writer said of the period after receiving the transplant.
“I hope that by sharing more positive stories of organ donation that more people will sign up to be on the national registry,” the writer stated. “Please don’t take your organs to Heaven. So many people need them here.”
Officials with the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA) said more than 123,000 people across the United States are on the donor waiting list. Approximately 900 of those individuals are from Kentucky.
Baptist Health Corbin contacts KODA to report any deaths. KODA representatives approach families about organ donation,” said Becky Stewart, a spokesperson for Baptist Health Corbin when asked about the policy regarding organ donation at the hospital.
“When someone registers as an organ donor (when renewing their license or otherwise), KODA is able to get that information from the registry list and inform the family that their loved one is a registered donor.”