Alabama Organ Center celebrates National Donate Life Month, National Blue & Green Day April 21

Alabama Organ Center celebrates National Donate Life Month, National Blue & Green Day April 21
More than 3,000 Alabama residents are awaiting organs for transplant, the majority of whom are on kidney transplant waiting lists. Ann Rayburn, director of Education and Referral Services for the Alabama Organ Center in Birmingham – and herself a kidney donor – said there's no price one can place on the gift of organ donation. Nearly 35 percent of Alabamians are registered donors. (Contributed)

The Alabama Organ Center (AOC), in conjunction with Donate Life America, is celebrating National Donate Life Month and National Blue & Green Day on Friday, April 21, by encouraging all Alabamians to register to give the gift of life to someone in need.

“One of the greatest gifts we can leave our fellow man upon death is an opportunity to extend the lives of others by donating our organs and tissues to those in need,” said Chris Meeks, executive director of the AOC. “We are humbled by the generous nature of the residents of Alabama who have already registered their decision to be organ donors, and we would love for those who have not yet done so to join them and all of the families who support organ, eye and tissue donation, and register to be a donor today.”

Those who wish to register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor can do so online at

In June 2016, the AOC’s Ann Rayburn donated a kidney to a longtime friend who was suffering from renal failure. (Donna Cope / Alabama NewsCenter)

Each year, Donate Life America creates artwork for National Donate Life Month that illustrates the power of donation. The 2017 National Donate Life Month art uses pinwheels to tell the donation story. Pinwheels capture and pass on energy. Each Donate Life pinwheel has four sails supported by one stem. The one stem symbolizes the power of one person to save and heal lives through donation. The four sails represent organ, eye, tissue and living donation, the four ways one person can save and heal more than 75 lives through organ, eye and tissue donation, and even save a life through the gift of living donation.

Pinwheels are also symbolic of transformation and turning obstacles into opportunities, said AOC Director of Education and Referral Services Ann Rayburn, who, in June 2016, donated a kidney to a longtime friend who was in renal failure.

“The image of the pinwheel is a reminder that we all have the potential power to save and heal lives,” Rayburn said. “When I was screened to be able to donate a kidney to my friend, the process was really easy. This month, we at the Alabama Organ Center encourage Alabamians to watch the pinwheels transform the breeze into colorful motion. Think about the thousands of lives touched by donation and transplantation, and register to be a donor.”

2017 National Blue & Green Day across Alabama

This year’s National Blue & Green Day is celebrated on Friday, April 21. Supporters are encouraged to wear blue and green April 21 in an effort to promote organ, eye, tissue and living donation. Several locations across the state will show their support April 21 by changing various landmarks in the state to blue and green, including:

  • Saturn V Rocket at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center
  • RSA Tower in Montgomery
  • Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel
  • Children’s of Alabama
  • The Kirklin Clinic of UAB Hospital Fountain
  • Iconic Birmingham Sign at Regions Field
  • REV Birmingham’s “Birmingham Lights” four tunnels at 14th, 18th, 20th and 22nd streets
  • Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa
  • Vestavia Hills Southern Gateway and Sibyl Temple.
AOC donors and recipients meet yearly to celebrate life. (UAB)

Approximately 54 percent of the U.S. adult population are registered organ, eye and tissue donors, and 34 percent of Alabamians are registered. However, the number of people in need of transplants continues to outpace the number of organs donated. According to January data supplied by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, more than 119,000 people are waiting for a transplant and a second chance at life. On average, 22 people die each day because the organ they need is not donated in time. That is almost one person dying every hour.

“Registering your decision to become a donor is the most effective way to save lives through donation and is a sign of support to those who continue to wait,” Meeks said.

The AOC is the federally designated, nonprofit, organ procurement organization for the state of Alabama. As such, the AOC coordinates organ and tissue donation for transplantation and research. The organization is dedicated to working with healthcare and community partners to support donor families, facilitate donation, and provide community education to empower people to take action to become an organ and tissue donor. For more information or to register, visit the Alabama Organ Center. 

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