There’s a nonprofit group searching for a few good congregations. They’d like help in spreading the word that there’s a desperate need for donors to sign up. Currently, there are some 117,000 people clinging to hope on a national list for organ transplant.
Hence, the National Donor Sabbath occurs during the two weekends before Thanksgiving, from Friday through Sunday. This breadth incorporates the holy days of Muslim, Jewish and Christian congregations respectively.
No Galveston County house of worship has so far signed up for the 2017 Sabbath, but Joshlyn Willis, marketing and communications coordinator for the Southwest Transplant Alliance (organ.org), is hoping to bring one or more onboard this year.
“The need for donated organs is great,” Willis said. “Approximately 10,000 patients are waiting just here in Texas. There are even more people waiting for life-enhancing tissue and corneal transplants. Honoring the sabbath in such a way creates a space to talk about this need during church services. It opens the eyes and channels of communication of each congregation member. Some might also be on the waiting list or have received a transplant but no one would have known if it weren’t for these programs.”
Willis said that all major faiths allow or encourage the gift of organ donation.
“They view it as a final act of love and generosity,” she said. “They all welcome the celebration of the National Donor Sabbath. In our state, Donate Life Texas and its supporting organizations supply resources and/or volunteer advocates to speak at religious services. Typically, advocates speak on their connection to donation and the importance of registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor.”
There are a few offshoots of the major religions that forbid even blood donations, but the odds are that your house of worship would entertain no such restrictions.
In addition to signing up to host a speaker or presentation, Willis offered other ways to help the cause.
“A few examples include placing the message about the importance of donation in the program, inviting guest speakers to share their personal donation stories or hosting information tables after services where the congregation can ask more questions and have an opportunity to register,” she said. “You could also ask your congregation to dress in the blue and green donate life colors or sing related hymns.”
Often, the appeal is personal. Willis said that faith leaders are often focused by a congregant who received a transplant or failed to, or by the story of a late member whose donation gave sight or life to another.
“We welcome faith leaders to contact us at any time to help bring this message to their congregation,” Willis said.
For details, call 800-788-8058 or visit DonateLifeTexas.org.
Next week in Our Faith: A new Torah arrives at an area Jewish center with great fanfare.