Every year, two weeks before Thanksgiving, members of the organ donation community gather together in places of worship to celebrate those who have given and received life through organ donation.
According to Donate Life America, the National Donor Sabbath is a way to encourage members throughout the year to give hope and save lives by registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor.
The topic of organ donation and Donor Sabbath are controversial topics for some, but for others there is a much different response.
“I personally believe Donor Sabbath is amazing. It brings everyone together to help get more organ donors in the world,” said Beth Zirkle, volunteer for the Center of Organ Recovery and Education.
Zirkle has worked with C.O.R.E for about four years now and said she has learned more than she ever could have imagined. Zirkle said West Virginia is the third lowest state in organ donation rates in the country.
“I hope to one day not only go statewide but nationwide as well, and I plan on getting West Virginia to the highest rate,” said Zirkle.
Zirkle got involved with organ donation following the death of her best friend. She said when her friend was ten years old, she told her parents that if anything ever happened to her, then she wanted to help people by becoming an organ donor. Zirkle said her friend died in November of 2011 and went into the donation process. Her friend saved a total of 14 lives.
Zirkle said the Donor Sabbath is a great thing to have, and it helps clear up a lot of myths.
“People believe a lot of myths, a big one being that their religion does not support organ donation. However, all major religions support organ donation,” said Zirkle.
Zirkle said she believes people should talk about organ donation in order to bust the myths. She said most religions view organ donation as a final act of kindness, and she thinks this fact should be celebrated throughout the entire year and not just during November.
According to www.life-source.org, 22 people die each day in the United States due to the organ shortage, and the site also said a single donor can save and heal up to 60 people.
“I have a friend who is a veteran and needs a kidney transplant. He has been waiting for a long time,” said Michelle Knapp, local advocate for organ donation.
According to www.donorrecovery.org, there was no cost to participate in the Donor Sabbath, and it is supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as the service administrations on national, state and local donor levels.
Contact Kalyn Bordman at [email protected]