Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Loyola To Celebrate National Donate Life Month

Organ recipients, living donors, donor families to give thanks, share hugs and tears at annual Candlelight Ceremony

MAYWOOD, Ill. -- Thousands of men, women and children are waiting for lifesaving organs in Illinois, joining the more than 106,000 people who are on waiting lists across the nation.

Unfortunately, this year thousands of those waiting will die without ever having a chance for a transplant due to the huge shortage of transplantable hearts, liver, kidney, lungs and other tissue.

"When you need a transplant, probably the most difficult part of the whole process is waiting for someone to make that donation," said Michael Rummel, RN, an organ procurement coordinator at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. "Waiting takes a heavy toll not just on the patient but on the families and caregivers, too."

To help raise awareness about the need for increased donation, hundreds of organ transplant patients and their families will gather to speak and light candles at Loyola’s The Greatest Gift candlelight ceremony to remember and honor their donors as part of National Donate Life Month, which takes place in April. The ceremony will also reunite patients with the transplant physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains and priests who cared from them during their illnesses.

The yearly commemoration, which also will honor live organ donors and the families of deceased donors, will take place from 4-5 p.m., Thursday, April 22, in the Paul V. Galvin Memorial Chapel of Loyola University Hospital, 2160 S. First Ave., Maywood. Participating in the ceremony will be:

* The family of Cameron Chana, a 22-year-old resident of Clarendon Hills who died on May 30, 2009, in a bus accident near Charleston, Ill. Years earlier Cameron had signed up to be an organ donor. His selfless act has saved and enhanced the lives of a number of people.

* Guadalupe Vazquez, a Latino grandmother, wife and resident of Cicero who underwent a liver transplant. She and her family are anxious to spread the message about the desperate need for organ donation in the minority community.

* Valerie Batz, a Barrington wife and mother of twins who was hours away from dying before a new set of lungs were found for her. Now, more than 12 years after her life-saving transplant, she is a tireless advocate for organ donation.

* Chuck Vrasich, a Woodstock football coach, husband and father whose muscular dystrophy caused his heart to fail, requiring a transplant. Today, Chuck has returned to coaching and continues to be very active in the community.

* David Watkins, an African America resident of Homewood and the husband and father of three who is a kidney recipient. Prior to transplant his fondest wish was to see his children grow up and to one day walk his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day, which he fully expects to be able to do.

Each day, an average of 77 people receives organ transplants in the U.S. but thousands more never get the call from their transplant center, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. Loyola University Health System is one of the leading solid-organ transplant centers in the nation, offering heart, heart/lung, lung, bone marrow, corneal, kidney, intra-abdominal and liver transplant programs.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.