For Immediate Release - November 6, 1998
Contact: Anastasia Burton, Press Secretary (406) 444-5523
Montana Lt. Governor Judy Martz, chairperson of the Governor's Council on Organ Donor Awareness, announced today that the organization will participate in the Third Annual National Donor Sabbath Weekend, an event sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Transplantation, from November 13 - 15.
Designed to raise awareness about organ and tissue donation, the effort specifically deals with how various religious faiths regard this important issue. It is held close to Thanksgiving and other holidays of celebration and reflection and is considered an educational opportunity for people of all faiths.
According to Martz, a living donor herself, the campaign is designed to raise awareness of the acceptability of organ donation. "A majority of religious and ethnic groups favor organ and tissue donation and support open communication between family members to share their decision with each other. Our goal in Montana is to encourage religious leaders to use the weekend of November 13 - 15 to discuss and hopefully openly encourage their congregations to pass on the gift of life," Martz said.
The Donor Sabbath Weekend comes at a time when more than 60,000 individuals find themselves on waiting lists for essential organs. Latest reports show that close to 40,000 await a kidney; 10,800 need a liver; and over 4,000 are on the list for a new heart. In addition, thousands more wait for heart valves, bone transplants, corneas, lung transplants, and more. Every day, approximately 12 people die while waiting transplants.
The Governor's Council on Organ Donor Awareness was formed earlier this year by Martz, who gathered an all-volunteer group of interested and active Montana citizens to develop programs to call attention to organ donation in Montana. The programs are designed to create education, awareness, and special event opportunities.
Council member Dan Dixson, pastor of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and part-time director of Pastoral Care of Community Medical Center in Missoula, will head Donor Sabbath activities by acting as a resource for basic information for individual religious and ethnic groups.
"Every religion has its own interpretation of the issue and where they stand. We can access this date and provide members of clergy with facts, figures, and suggested topics for sermons, lectures, and educational curriculum," Dixson said.
Persons interested in learning more about National Donor Sabbath or the Governor's Council on Organ Donor Awareness can contact Dixson at 406-327-4063 or by calling toll free at 877-275-5269.