Published on November 16, 2020
The numbers are staggering: more than 112,000 men, women and children in the United States are registered on the national organ transplant list awaiting life-saving transplants. In Missouri alone, nearly 2,000 people are waiting.
Organ donation remains an important issue because thousands of people die each year waiting for a transplant. Unfortunately, each year the number of people waiting for transplants outweighs the number of available donors.
Reasons to Donate
For Cindy Butler, administrative director of patient care services at Phelps Health, educating people about the importance of organ donation is a passion.
“The gift of life is such a generous offer to individuals. It’s an opportunity to allow your legacy to live on through someone else, and it’s the most selfless thing that anyone can do,” Butler said. “Many lives have been enhanced or saved through the act of donation here at Phelps Health.”
One organ donor can save up to eight people’s lives and improve the lives of up to 75 others. The list of organs and tissues that can be donated continues to grow, and anyone can register to become a donor.
A Personal Experience
In 1994, Butler’s father unexpectedly passed away. This experience prompted her to understand the importance of organ donation. At that time, Butler said she was unwilling to allow her father to become an organ donor.
“The timing was bad, because we were hurt and we didn’t expect it [his death],” she said. “We had never talked about organ donation in our family, and now it’s a struggle for me to know I was so negative about something so wonderful. I wish I could rewind time and say, ‘absolutely—give everything you can give,’ because he [her father] was a giving man.”
Now, the topic of organ donation is discussed frequently in Butler’s family.
“What greater gift could I give than to give a young mother the ability to chase her children? Or the ability for someone to hear or see?” she said.
“I want to be able to leave that legacy, and I want to make sure that everyone around me knows they have an opportunity to leave that legacy as well. This is what organ donation is all about – loving each other, giving the gift of life and allowing others the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest," she said.
The Hall of Honor
Butler was integral in the 2019 implementation of The Hall of Honor, an event honoring the patients at Phelps Health who become organ donors.
"Our organ donors are honored by an overhead page heard throughout Phelps Health Hospital, which allows staff to come and line the halls in silence to honor the individual’s departure,” said Butler. “The Hall of Honor is a glorious send-off for an individual who chose to give someone else the gift of life.”
The Hall of Honor allows the donor’s family to see how much the act of donation and the gift of life means to the staff at Phelps Health. The response has been tremendous so far, with countless people lining the halls.
“Tears have been shed—both in despair and in joy—over seeing an individual leave to become that legacy,” said Butler. “The experience leaves you with an awesome feeling.”
Ready to Save Lives?
Take the first step and register today to become an organ donor. Donors should have conversations with their families about organ donation so their loved ones know their wishes ahead of time. To register on the Missouri donor site, visit donatelifemissouri.org.