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Appalachia Health News tells the story of our health challenges and how we overcome them throughout the region. 

Donate Life Month Corrects Myths About Organ Donation

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Courtesy of Cheryl King
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Braxton Memorial Hospital and sites in West Virginia rose flags to recognize Donate Life Day.

April is Donate Life Month, a national effort to encourage more people to become organ donors.

About 100,000 Americans, including 500 in West Virginia, are waiting to receive an organ transplant that could save or drastically change their life.

One way to help is to register to become an organ donor, so that your organs, bone and tissue can be recovered once you die.

“It's important for people to know that one organ donor can save eight lives, and one tissue donor can heal 75 others,” said Cheryl King, the West Virginia outreach coordinator for the Center for Organ Recovery and Education, or CORE.

King said Donate Life Month is a time to dispel misconceptions that people might have about the organ donation process. She said the process is as simple as it sounds and in no way would put patients at risk.

“If the person is in the hospital, and they have been declared brain dead, then that is when our people would come in and do the recovery of the organs. So nothing happens before that, in the process of registering to become a donor,” King said. “This does not mean that when you go to the doctor, or if you are in, God forbid, an auto accident that you would go to the hospital, and they would not give you the proper care, because you were an organ donor, and they want your organs.”

King said there are little religious concerns people should have; organ donation doesn’t get in the way of open casket funerals. She said people of any age can also be organ donors when they pass away.

“Last year in West Virginia, we had a 95-year-old donor. His name was Cecil Lockhart, and his liver went to a lady in Florida. And she is now living a very happy life, close to a year now, because of his selfless act of being an organ donor,” King said.

You can register to be a donor when getting a driver’s license or a hunting and fishing license. Or you can sign up anytime at registerme.org.

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting with support from Charleston Area Medical Center and Marshall Health.

Appalachia Health News Reporter, jleffler@wvpublic.org, 502-377-0438, @june_leffler

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