Kicking off in National Donate Life month, the partnership will make Volunteers of America the first non-profit in the region to register organ donors directly
Partnership will educate public and clients about addiction recovery and organ donation
April 9, 2019 Louisville, KY–Leaders from Volunteers of America, Kentucky Organ Donors Affiliates (KODA) and Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust for Life announced a groundbreaking new partnership today, “Hope and Healing,” designed to increase organ donations in Kentucky and surrounding states today. Under the innovative partnership, Volunteers of America will become the first non-profit in the region to be able to directly register individuals as organ donors.
“We are thrilled to be part of this innovative and life-saving partnership. Our message is simple: it only takes a minute to save a life, and Volunteers of America is working with our staff, clients, graduates, friends and supporters to give the gift of life by registering as many donors as possible,” Jennifer Hancock, President and CEO of Volunteers of America Mid-States said.
April is national Donate Life Month and the partnership is timely and needed because Kentucky has increased the renewal period for drivers’ licenses from four years to eight years. This means that fewer Kentuckians will be asked each year if they want to join the organ donor registry as they apply for or renew their drivers’ licenses.
Trust for Life is an initiative of the Kentucky Association of Circuit Court Clerks that raises funds and awareness for organ and tissue donations. KODAprovides organ and tissues to those in need and was formed to establish a statewide educational and procurement network. KODA participates in and promotes organ donor events throughout the state and region. Currently, more than 1.3 Kentuckians are on the organ donor registry.
Trust for Life Executive Director Shelley Snyder addressed the importance of having more community partners promoting organ donation.
“In preparation for the changes at driver’s license, VOA has risen to the occasion with compassion and commitment to service for those in need, just as they always do. With over 1000 Kentuckians in need of a lifesaving transplant, their partnership means more people will register to give hope to all families waiting and in need. We are honored to work alongside VOA to provide hope and healing by empowering people to help others and making it easy to register,” Snyder said.
Louisville Metro Council President David James and State Senator Julie Raque Adams also attended the kick-off event and expressed their support for the new partnership. Also attending were donor families and recipients of organ donations, including Volunteers of America Board of Directors Chairman David Fennell, who received a life-saving lung transplant.
“If a courageous individual had not made the decision to become an organ donor, I would probably not be standing here today. I’m very pleased to be able to give back by participating in this program and helping to encourage more people to become donors,” Fennell said.
Hancock and Snyder also talked about the impact the opioid and addiction epidemic have had on the organ donor registry. Nationally in 2017, about 18 percent of hearts recovered for organ transplant were from people who died of drug overdoses. That number was less than two percent in 1999. Overall, nearly 14 percent of all organs recovered for transplant came from overdose deaths.
Volunteers of America is one of our region’s largest providers of addiction recovery services, and program graduates joined the organ donation registry today.
“We believe the name of our campaign – Hope and Healing – speaks to the experiences of our VOA Recovery graduates who have overcome substance use disorder. They are starting new, healthy and sober lives. I believe we can also provide healing for the families of organ donors who have so generously given by showing appreciation, thanks and support,” Hancock said.
Snyder and Hancock emphasized that except in very rare cases, organs recovered from individuals who died of drug overdoses are safe, healthy and completely acceptable for donation.
Volunteers of America is registering donors by promoting the partnership to all employees, clients, graduates, board members and other supporters and friends. Even before the office kickoff, Volunteers of America had registered more than 100 individuals.
“We are going to promote this campaign in every way possible, and hope it will become a regional and national model that increases organ donation across the country,” Hancock said.
Volunteers of Americaserves Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Clark and Floyd Counties in Indiana. With program areas that include addiction treatment and recovery services, veterans, housing and homelessness, developmental disabilities and HIV education and testing, Volunteers of America serves more than 23,000 individuals annually.
Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates mission is to provide organ and tissues to those in need and to maintain a profound respect for those who gave. For more information visit kyorgandonor.org. The mission of theKentucky Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust For Life is to inform, educate, and encourage Kentuckians to register as organ and tissue donors to save lives. For more information visit trustforlife.org. These two nonprofits partner closely to educate and improve the lives of Kentuckians through organ donation and transplantation.