GCH celebrates Donate Life Month with modified flag raising


GRAFTON—Organ donation is the final selfless act that an individual make to help others, and April is set aside as a month to celebrate those generous individuals who gave someone else a better chance at life. 

April is designated as National Donate Life Month and is a time to applaud those who have chosen to save a life by opting to become organ, eye, tissue marrow and blood donors. To help celebrate, officials from Grafton City Hospital (GCH) held a modified flag raising, on Tuesday.

Flags were provided by CORE, the Center for Organ Replacement and Education. CORE coordinates the recovery and matching of organs, tissues and corneas for transplant in the region.

“This is a really important occasion, especially for those of us who are organ donors,” voiced Grafton City Hospital Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Gessler. “Because of the weather, we are going to host our flag raising a little differently, but I’m sure those in short sleeves will be thankful!”

To help kick off the month-long celebration, he read a piece prepared by GCH’s Lisa Rock.

“Today we come together in a flag raising to show our support for lifesaving organ transplant. We are reminded there are currently over 100,000 men, women and children awaiting organ donation,” he read. “For many it is their only chance at more life and more time. They’re counting on us, so donate life today.”

“We want to make sure we’re increasing the level of education and advocacy for organ donation for all of our communities here in Taylor County and abroad, especially in North Central West Virginia,” Gessler said. 

The team at GCH prides itself on providing organ donation education to its staff and the community it serves. And because of their efforts, last year, they received CORE’s 2021 Donate Life West Virginia Hospital Challenge Silver Award.

“This team has shared an immense amount of education and an immense amount of materials that align with Donate Life Month, and really part of our advocacy all year,” Gessler explained. “Last year, we won the silver award, but this year, we are going for platinum.”

According to Violet Shaw, Senior Director, Patient Care Services at GCH, the Donate Life West Virginia Hospital Challenge awards points for certain areas of education.

“There are four different levels. Basically, what happens is a hospital will get so many points for educating their staff, and if they work to educate the public, they will receive additional points,” she explained.

Additionally, points are awarded to entities who host seminars or carry out public outreach or teaching. 

“All these different things add up, and this year, we are hoping to move to the next level, the third highest tier, platinum,” Shaw noted.

It was revealed that with the points already earned, the hospital was on track to claim the prize they had set their sights on.

CORE’s mission is about saving lives of those in need of a transplant, as well as helping donor families heal after they experience a loss.

According to CORE, there are 112,000 people waiting for an organ transplant nationally, and that every ten minutes someone new is added to the list. 

Within their service area throughout West Virginia and western Pennsylvania, more than 2,500 people are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, and thousands more need a tissue or cornea transplant. 

At the same time, only about 35 percent of West Virginians are signed up to be donors. 

Through organ donation, a person can potentially save eight individuals, and can heal approximately 75 others through tissue donation. Donors can give their kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, heart, tissue and corneas, in addition to other organs.

In 2021, more than 40,000 lifesaving or life-enhancing organ transplants were performed in the United States from both living and deceased donors. Unfortunately, over 100,000 people across the nation were still waiting for a life-saving transplant.

Any person of any age or with a medical condition can be considered an organ, cornea and tissue donor. At the time of death, medical professionals will determine whether a person can donate. Donor families do not pay for the costs of donation.

There are two options in West Virginia for those who make the decision to save the lives of others by donating organs: they can opt to have the designation put on their driver’s license or state issued identification card or sign up anytime online at www.core.org/register.

“Organ donation is such an important step in protecting the lives of all of us in our community,” Gessler voiced. “We encourage everyone to check that box. Organ donation is something that we’re very, very proud of and it’s something that we’re really excited to be a part of.” 

To find out more about donating life, visit www.core.org or call 1-800-DONORS-7.

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