Medical Monday: April is National Donor Awareness Month

CARIBOU, Maine - April is National Donor Awareness Month. In this week's Medical Monday, Kathy McCarty speaks with Dean Cote, a registered nurse, about an upcoming event to promote organ donor awareness.

Dean Cote, an RN at Cary Medical Center, knows firsthand how important organ donations are, having been personally touched by the organ and tissue donation program when a loved one became ill and needed a transplant to save his life.

"Personally, we've been touched as a family because we have an employee here, a young lady - I won't mention names because I don't have their approval yet - but she was a living donor to my wife's uncle and provided him a new kidney, which has given him a new lease on life."

Those in need of an organ donation don't have the luxury of time; it's an immediate - and life-changing - need. Cote says that's why the hospital hosts an event each April to raise awareness and encourage people to register to be a donor. This year's event is April 20th.

" In order to celebrate that, we are sponsoring - we have - our sixth year doing the Ann King Donor Dash. It's a way to bring awareness to the community, also to have community involvement. It's a 5K Walk or Run."

The need far surpasses the number of available organs.

"There's 115,000 men, women and children currently in the U.S. that are awaiting much-needed organs - heart, liver, spleen, lungs. Unfortunately, the demand is greater than the people who can provide."

Cote says he and his staff are more than happy to educate people on the process and importance of giving the gift of life.

"One of the things that I tell people is what if it was you or your son or daughter that needed a lifesaving organ? Would you be appreciative of the person who's willing to give you that gift of life? You know, it's that final gift that somebody can give after their death that would continue to living in somebody's body and giving them life."

Cote says becoming a donor is as simple as registering at or through the DMV when you get your license.