Family, friends and employees at SwedishAmerican gathered to celebrate the local lives saved by organ donations, but it was also about those who donated life.
“It’s a very emotional thing, at first it was really hard to know while I was waiting on the list that somebody has to die, for me to live,” said James Anderson, a liver donation recipient.
Three years ago he received a life-saving liver transplant. He called it a blessing, and a responsibility.
“Being a reciprocate is a responsibility to not just carry on my life, but to carry on the life of that person, whoever you get your organs from,” said Anderson.
Another patient, Karen Ludwig, had her kidneys deteriorating, with only 19 percent functioning when she recieved her transplant. It took nearly two years to find her a donor match.
“I felt wonderful afterwards. Before I got the transplant I was very ill, very close to going on dialysis,” said Ludwig.
According to the National Foundation for Transplants, 22 people die every day waiting for a transplant. That’s why SwedishAmerican held the celebration of donate a life month, where Rockford residents learned from first-hand accounts the importance of organ donation.
“Nobody wants to see anybody die, but at least their death is not forgotten about,” said Anderson. “It does carry on in somebody’s life, in some family’s life.”
When Ludwig’s husband died last year, he passed on the gift of life, donating his eyes and other tissue, and she says she’ll do the same.
“I don’t want to be buried with viable organs, there’s [organs] that could go help somebody else, and that’s important.”
Organ donation from living donors is also possible in some cases. The month of April is recognized as donate life month.