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April 14, 2010

Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047 or

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Chief Medical Officer Has Two-Year Transplant Anniversary

April is Organ Donor Awareness Month

Lincoln—Dr. Joann Schaefer is celebrating the gift of life. Two years ago, in March 2008, she received the donation of half a liver from a living donor. Today, she is doing well, as is her donor, Dr. Gary Gorby of Omaha, her friend, colleague, and neighbor.

April is Organ Donation Awareness Month.

“I would like everyone to know that they have the power to make a difference in the life of someone who is very ill, whose life depends on receiving a transplant,” Dr. Schaefer, Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Division of Public Health in the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, said. “In the event of a death, someone can donate everything from corneas and tissue to heart, lungs and pancreas. For people who want to be living donors, they can donate a kidney or part of a liver.”

When a death occurs, families are faced with difficult decisions. You can make it easier for them if you have indicated ahead of time that you would like your organs and tissues donated. Although the consent of the family is not necessary in Nebraska, knowledge about what your wishes are spares them at least one difficult decision at a time when everyone is heartbroken and grieving.

There continues to be an extreme shortage in the number of available organs and tissues for transplantation. The number of people waiting for a transplant in the U.S. is over 100,000. The number of Nebraskans waiting for a transplant is about 450. A single donor can save or enhance the lives of up to 50 people.

Check the box on your driver’s license or state I.D. indicating that you want to be an organ donor. Then discuss your wishes with your family so that they know, if the time comes, what to expect.

In Nebraska, 43 percent of those who get driver’s licenses or state I.D.s join the state donor registry.

“We can fill the Nebraska Donor Registry with the names of people who are willing to step up to the plate and make their wishes known,” Dr. Schaefer said. “Many lives can be saved with the organs and tissues of just one donor.”

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