CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – In addition to being Valentines’ Day, February 14th is also National Organ Donor Day.

According to Donate Life America, the purpose of the holiday is to spread awareness and education about the process of becoming an organ donor.

According to a statement released by the Department of Health and Human Services, anyone age 16 or older can register as an organ and tissue donor. In 2021, more than 41,354 organ transplants were performed in the U.S.; that was an increase of nearly 6% compared to transplants in 2020.  

“My last transplant was a miracle, I waited eight years for it and I would wait another eight if need be,” said Kimberlyn Meyer, who received her first kidney transplant in 2018 after being diagnosed with kidney disease more than 30 years ago. However, her journey isn’t over yet. She joins more than 100,000 Americans on the National Transplant Waiting List hoping to receive another.

“I’ve had one previously but sometimes they just don’t last. My husband has also had a kidney transplant so we like to do these things together. It’s very important to educate people,” said Meyer.

On this National Donor Day, New England Donor Services teamed up with the city of Holyoke to spread awareness on signing up to become a donor.

“Twenty-two people die each day waiting for a life-saving transplant. I am proud to say New England Donor services had it’s best year ever with the most transplantations, over 1,200 lives were saved in New England because someone said yes,” said Matt Boger, Director of New England Donor Services.

Glen Wiley was diagnosed with liver cancer in February 2015. Thanks to a donor, nine months later he’s been able to watch his family grow.

“In November of 2015, I received that gift of life and I am here today because of it. If I had never receive that liver transplant I wouldn’t have seen my son graduate from high school and I have seen him graduate from college,” said Wiley.

Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia proclaimed February 14 as Organ Donor Day in the city supporting everyone to become a donor and to help save a life.

To become an organ donor, register online at www.donatelife.net/register.

 Donate Life America provided the following facts to better understand organ, eye, and tissue donation:

  • Anyone can be a potential donor regardless of age, race, or medical history.
  • All major religions in the United States support organ, eye and tissue donation and see it as the final act of love and generosity toward others.
  • If you are sick or injured and admitted to the hospital, the number one priority is to save your life. Organ, eye and tissue donation can only be considered after you are deceased.
  • When you are on the waiting list for an organ, what really counts is the severity of your illness, time spent waiting, blood type, and other important medical information, not your financial status or celebrity status.
  • An open casket funeral is possible for organ, eye and tissue donors. Through the entire donation process the body is treated with care, respect and dignity.
  • There is no cost to the donor or their family for organ or tissue donation.
  • Information about an organ donor is only released to the recipient if the family of the donor requests or agrees to it.