ITASCA, Ill. (April 11, 2018) –  Every April, Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network celebrates National Donate Life Month, an awareness month that calls on a person’s individual power to save and enhance lives by registering to be an organ, eye and tissue donor, and inspires people to learn more about both organ and tissue donation.

More than 4,300 patients registered at Illinois’ nine transplant centers are counting on the public – on people they don’t know – to save their lives by agreeing to organ donation. Sadly, if past years are any indication, more than 300 of those patients will die before a donated organ becomes available to give them a second chance at life.

“In the song Hey Jude, the Beatles sang, ‘Take a sad song, and make it better.’ That is essentially what we do here at Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network,” said Kevin Cmunt, president/CEO for Gift of Hope. “Thanks to selfless donors, we can rewrite the ending of the stories and change a tragedy into a triumph.”

That idea of taking tragedy and sadness and transforming it into the idea of new hope and new life for someone else is what inspired the artwork created by Gift of Hope for National Donate Life Month. The image of the watering can represents the donor and the donor family. The pot represents a person waiting for a transplant. From the gift of donation, new life can bloom, just like a beautiful flower.

Everyone has the opportunity to plant seeds of hope by signing up and registering to be organ and tissue donors. During last month’s 2018 Chicago Organ Summit, Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson all encouraged the entire state of Illinois to register to become organ and tissue donors and communicate those wishes with their families and loved ones.

“The act of registering your decision to be an organ and tissue donor takes less than a minute,” said Cmunt.  “Your one action has the potential to save and enhance the lives of more than 25 people through organ and tissue donation.”

WVON radio personality, gospel recording artist and Apostolic Faith Church member, Pam Morris, knows first-hand how one person can plant seeds of hope in other. Pam received a heart transplant in 2016 from Mario Cousins.

Chicago violence claimed the life of 20-year-old Mario Cousins as he sat outside his home. Despite this tragedy, Mario’s mother, Emma O’Neal and father, Mario Cousins, Sr., knew their son would want to help others in need and said yes to organ donation. Thanks to Mario’s generous gift, he saved not only Pam’s life, but the lives of five other people through organ donation.

Rev. Frank Walton, husband of Pam said, “My wife has always had a wonderful heart and a calling to helping others. After being given this new heart, that passion for helping others is even greater.”

During National Donate Life Month, hospitals, schools, businesses and local communities across the state will host events that are sure to inspire others to show their passion for helping others by registering to be organ and tissue donors and to honor donors and donor families who have made a difference in the lives of others.

“We call on the public to take this time to talk to their families about the end-of-life decision to become donors and save lives,” said Cmunt.  “Of the hundreds of events and of all the people we hope to reach this month, it all comes down to planting those seeds of hope and saving the lives of those 4,300 people here in Illinois waiting for transplants. We honor those who have made the decision to donate.”