A Macomb Township resident is working with the Michigan Donor Family Council, an extension of Gift of Life, to educate others on the importance of organ donation.
Harry Lucas has seen the effects of organ donation firsthand. His daughter, April, a 23-year-old Novi High School graduate and Central Michigan University graduate student, died after suffering a brain hemorrhage in November 2011. He said April’s donation gave the gift of life to four people.
“One of the most important things for any family that’s suffered a loss like that is to continue the legacy of their loved ones,” Lucas said. “There’s such a need out there – people waiting on organ donation lists who will never get them. You can save lives.”
As part of the Michigan Donor Family Council, Lucas said he works to support local donor families, as well as increase donor registration. He said the group also fundraises for various organizations and hosts gatherings and tributes for donor families.
“These people are truly heroes in every sense of the word; they’re unselfishly donating organs to strangers to save their lives,” he said.
With no prior heath concerns or symptoms, Lucas said April “went from a headache to unconscious within a few minutes.” Surgery was performed, but was unsuccessful.
“We decided (organ donation) is what we want to do; this is what she would want us to do, and she was able to save four lives,” he said. “Not knowing who it’s going to, it’s such a selfless, unconditional gift of life.”
Gift of Life maintains the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, a database of Michigan residents who have expressed interest in becoming organ donors. The organization also provides services that are necessary for organ donation to occur in the state.
The Michigan Donor Family Council consists of donor families who dedicate their time and resources to support donor families and the transplant community, as well as encourage others to consider organ donation.
There have been more than 452,000 organ donor registrations in Michigan through the first 10 months of 2012, which is up 39 percent from the same point last year and 67 percent from 2010, according to the Secretary of State.
“I’ve been left behind with a cause that my daughter donated to in the most caring way,” Lucas added.
Lucas, who has lived in the township since 2001, emphasized the importance of registering as an organ donor.
“I tell people to sign up because if the opportunity comes up they will come to the family and ask them, and if you have your wishes known, you won’t have to burden the family with making that decision,” he explained.
“If you haven’t signed up yet – you may not want to – but consider if a loved one needed a heart or liver or kidney to live, you would surely take it. So if you’re wiling to take one, you should be able to give one. Let your wishes be known and sign up.”
To join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry and receive a heart emblem for the front of your driver’s license or state ID card, visit giftoflifemichigan.org or call 800-482-4881.