Tennessee Donor Services (TDS) today launched #BeTheGift, Tennessee!, a statewide challenge to register 100,000 more Tennesseans as organ and tissue donors in 2021. Supporters of organ and tissue donation joined for the launch Monday evening in front of the State Capitol, whose cupola was lit green to mark April as Donate Life Month.
TDS Executive Director Jill Grandas was joined at the Capitol by Rep. Jeremy Faison, District 11, and Sen. Becky Massey, District 6, who co-sponsored a resolution earlier as part of Donate Life Month urging all Tennesseans to register as donors; the resolution passed unanimously in the House and Senate. The #BeTheGift, Tennessee! challenge is the first statewide organ registration initiative of its kind and will involve a series of virtual and in-person events over the next six months to reach the 100,000 goal.
Challenge activities will be updated at BeTheGiftToday.com.
"This is an exciting and historic day for the state of Tennessee," said Grandas. "With the urging of our state leaders, I have no doubt that Tennesseans will unite to save more lives by signing up as organ and tissue donors. Thanks to the dedication of our front-line workers at Tennessee Donor Services, our state set a record for the highest number of donations and transplants in 2020. Imagine how many more lives we can save together if we register more donors this year!"
The challenge was officially announced by Maggie Vick, a high school student from Morrison, TN who joined the event remotely from her school, Lakeway Christian Academy in White Pine. Vick, who did her senior project on organ and tissue donation, inspired Faison to sponsor the proclamation when she approached him about ways to increase the number of registered donors.
Tennessee Donor Services is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to save and improve lives by connecting organ and tissue donations to the patients who need them. TDS employees are the first responders of organ and tissue donation, arriving at hospitals day and night to support families as they consider the decision to donate their loved ones' organs. TDS is responsible for recovering organs and ensuring their transport to transplant hospitals in time for waiting patients to receive them.
In 2020, TDS partnered with 153 hospitals across the state to make possible 1,116 organ transplants from 390 donors. This was an all-time high in TDS' service area, despite the challenges created by COVID-19.
However, more than 100,000 people are still on the national organ transplant list waiting for organs, including more than 3,000 in Tennessee. An average of 20 people in the U.S. die each day waiting, because of the shortage of life-saving organs. TDS said #BeTheGift, Tennessee! will increase the potential for these lives being saved by adding 100,000 more donors to the state registry by the end of this year, which is 20,000 more than registered in 2020.
For more information, visit BeTheGiftToday.com.