Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White knows from personal experience the difference organ donation can make in saving a life.
About 15 years ago, before he became Secretary of State, White's sister was in dire need of a kidney replacement. Fortunately, an appropriate donor was found in time and she received the life-saving organ transplant.
"If you give somebody a second chance at life, you fall into the category of a hero," said White, during a visit last Friday to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.
White visited Condell and selected other hospitals in the recognize their efforts in facilitating organ donations. White presented Condell officials with an award from the Secretary of State's Office for their organ donation and tissue donation efforts and also spoke on statewide efforts to encourage organ donation.
White said Illinois has the most successful organ donation program in the country, with more than 5 million signed up for the program. Still, he said there are about 5,000 people in Illinois on a waiting list for organ and tissue donation, and about 300 residents of the state die each year because they can't find a match.
"Each year about 300 people die because they didn't get an organ in a timely manner," he said.
Dr. Ann Errichetti, president of Advocate Condell Medical Center, said since 2005 Condell has helped facilitate about 60 organ donations.
"It gives somebody a second chance at life who is awaiting an organ," she said.
Jerry Anderson, president and CEO of the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donation Network, said 904 organs were donated and transplanted statewide last year.
Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler, who attended White's visit to Condell, said he supports the organ and tissue donation program and efforts by the Secretary of State's Office to promote it statewide. He said two members of the Libertyville Sunrise Rotary that he knows were recipients of organ transplants.
"I think it's a good program and I don't think people realize how close to home it really can be," he said.
Advocate Condell Medical Center will host at seminar for local clergy on organ donation this Saturday, April 24, from 8:30 to 11 a.m., in the Condell Conference Center. To register or for more information, call (847) 990-5879 or e-mail the Rev. Fred Rajan at email@example.com.