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Published on April 07, 2015

April is National Donate Life Month

SIOUX FALLS (April 1, 2015) - National Donate Life Month in April is designated to raise awareness that each person has the power to save lives through organ, tissue, cornea, blood and bone marrow donation.

One donor can save or benefit up to 60 lives through organ, tissue and cornea donation. Yet every day, 21 people die due to organ shortage and a new name is added to the transplant waiting list every 10 minutes.

Many people, if given the news they needed an organ or bone marrow transplant to save their life, would expect to travel to a major metropolitan center. Yet since 1993, Avera has been offering this vital care, as home to the longest-standing kidney transplant program in the Dakotas. Pancreas transplantation was added in 2003. Today, Avera is setting the stage to offer liver transplantation, and has the only team dedicated to liver disease in the state and region.

Also part of Avera’s transplantation program is bone marrow transplant, in which stem cells are transplanted to provide life-saving treatment for diseases like leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and myelodysplastic syndrome. Since 1996, Avera has been home to the region’s only bone marrow transplant program.

In total, Avera has performed more than 1,100 transplantations, with outcomes comparable to national benchmarks.

Transplant is both life-saving and life-sustaining. “Transplant specialists have not only extended life, they have given many patients an improved quality of life. Yet it would not be possible if not for the generous hearts of individuals who are willing to be donors,” said Dave Kapaska, DO, Regional President and CEO of Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center.

Avera partners with LifeSource in the organ donation process. Registering as an organ donor lets your willingness to save lives be known. Licensed drivers and state ID card holders can register to be a donor by indicating their decision on their application.

Residents of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota can register to be a donor online at www.life-source.org.

It’s also important to share your decision to be an organ donor with your family. In the event of your death, LifeSource will work with your family to honor your decision to save lives through donation.

Avera also participates with the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP). At Avera McKennan, donors selected as a match can donate stem cells for a patient anywhere in the world, through a process known as apheresis, which is similar to donating blood.

Only about half of people needing a donor from NMDP will find a match. Therefore, it is important that individuals volunteer to join the registry at www.bethematch.org. It is as simple as doing a cheek swab to get on the registry.

Another way to give the gift of life is through donating blood. The Community Blood Bank based in Sioux Falls supplies blood to 31 hospital facilities throughout the area, and is always in need of donations. All blood donations benefit local facilities. Bloodmobile schedules, donation locations and more information are available at www.cbblifeblood.org

To learn more about transplant services at Avera, go to www.AveraTransplant.org

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Media Contact

For media inquiries, please contact:

Lindsey Meyers
Vice President of Public Relations
Office: 605-322-7955
lindsey.meyers@avera.org

Jay Gravholt
Director of Media Relations
Office: 605-668-8585
jgravholt@avera.org

Michelle Pellman
Public Relations Coordinator
Office: 605-322-7963
michelle.pellman@avera.org

Paige Baskerville
Public Relations Coordinator
Office: 605-322-7956
paige.baskerville@avera.org

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