LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - There are over 100,000 Americans waiting for the gift of life - that is life-saving organs or tissue. Every day across the country, 18 people on the organ transplant waiting list die simply because they cannot wait any longer. In an effort to save these lives in the ultimate waiting game, the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency, or LOPA, is working to increase the "Donate Life Louisiana Registry" by ten percent this year.
Women and Children's Hospital LOPA Champion Katherine Armentor says, "We've had so many people that say, I can't be a donor because of this or that and they don't realize the depth of it. It's not just your heart, even if you have a bad heart, it's not just your kidneys, even if you have a bad kidney, there's still organs, there's still tissue in your body that you are able to donate."
April is donor awareness month and as part of "Flags Across America," LOPA representatives brought out local donor and recipient families this week to a flag raising ceremony at Women and Children's Hospital to raise the Donate Life flag in Lake Charles.
One Lafayette couple shared their story of tragedy turned into hope when their four-year-old son, Devon, was killed in a car accident during evacuation for Hurricane Rita. Roger Leger says, "It felt like his life was taken needlessly and by donation, it gave us a sense of hope that a part of him still lived and that everything didn't happen for nothing. The accident wasn't a complete and total loss."
No one is more touched by the gift of life that donors give than the recipients. It's been 18 years since Donald Cormier of Lacassine received a life-saving heart transplant from a donor in Michigan. "Thank God that the family up there was willing to help us and they wanted to be a donor family because without them, of course - it's all predicated on the Lord, the Lord saw it fit for me to be here...so he did it, he got me a heart," says Cormier.
With the flag that is now waving, with the message "Donate Life," these families touched by the culmination of life and death hope that others will think about making this decision for themselves.