National Donor Sabbath is observed annually two weekends before Thanksgiving, Friday to Sunday.

The three-day observance seeks to include the days of worship for major religions practiced in the U.S. Faith leaders from many religions, donor families, transplant recipients, and donation and transplantation professionals participate in services and programs to educate the public.

Fr. Chris Hoffmann, pastor at Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church in Deltona, made this concept the entire topic of his Nov. 7 church bulletin.

“One may ethically donate any usable organ at their death. You may even donate your body to science,” Fr. Hoffman wrote. “Universities generally respect the dignity of the person and return the cremated remains to the family for burial once they can no longer use the cadaver.

“As a living person, you may donate a kidney. Some tissue donations can be done while alive without great harm and, of course, blood donation is always a worthwhile gift,” he wrote. “Once I asked the tech from One Blood who told me only about 37% of the population is able to donate blood and only 5% of the population actually does donate their blood or blood products. I am a regular blood donor and have had organ donor listed on my driver’s license for many years. I encourage you to consider doing the same.”

There are about 107,000 men, women and children on the national waiting list for heart, liver, kidney and other solid organ transplants. Every day 17 people die awaiting life-saving organ transplants.

“That is why you make a tremendous gift, ‘an act of everyday heroism’ when you agree to have your organs donated,” Fr. Hoffman wrote.

There are several ways you can donate your organs. When you renew your driver’s license, you can have an organ donor notation placed on it. Your intentions should be discussed with your spouse, children and grandchildren so they may follow through on your wishes.

The National Organ Procurement Transplantation Network was established by federal law for matching donor organs to waiting recipients. This computerized list is managed by the United Network for Organ Sharing (unos.org), in Richmond, Va. All states require hospitals to set up protocols for discussing organ donation with the families of deceased patients.

Donate Life Florida is a non-profit organization. Established in 1997 as Florida Coalition on Donation Inc., Donate Life Florida is dedicated to motivating Floridians to designate themselves as organ, tissue and eye donors, so lives are saved and enhanced through donation and transplantation.

The website states that “Today, more than 5,000 patients listed at Florida transplant centers await life-saving organ transplants. Many of these individuals may get a second chance at life due to the generosity of those who designate themselves as organ, tissue and eye donors on Florida’s organ and tissue donor registry. If you already have ‘organ donor’ on your driver license, you may access and customize your profile and donor designation record.”

You can save up to eight lives through organ donation and enhance dozens more through tissue and eye donation. By putting your name on Florida’s organ, tissue and eye donor registry, you consent to having your organs, tissues and eyes made available for transplantation upon death.

Examples of organs for life-saving transplants include heart, liver, pancreas, kidneys, lungs and small bowel. Examples of tissues that could save or enhance someone’s life include eyes, corneas, heart valves, bones and skin grafts. Organs and tissues not recovered for transplant may be recovered by the local organ, tissue or eye recovery programs for pre-approved medical research, therapy or education.

Fr. Matthew Mello, pastor at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church in Port Orange, believes the message behind National Donor Sabbath

“It is a great sacrificial act for the benefit of others,” Fr. Mello said. “It is one of the highest forms of charity.”

For more information, visit donatelifeflorida.org, lifelinkfound.org and organdonor.gov/.

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