OPINION: Eye bank donors leave ‘footprints’ on hearts of many grateful recipientsOver the past year in South Dakota, more than 500 people were eye, tissue and/or organ donors.
By: JENS SAAKVITNE, Guest columnist
Christmas in South Dakota is a time of family and of giving. It is also a time to say thank you.
Over the past year in South Dakota, more than 500 people were eye, tissue and/or organ donors. Each of these donors left their footprints in the sands of time, leaving us forever changed and forever grateful. These precious gifts of donation, when the donor did not need them anymore, helped to make many miracles happen.
A child in West River can see because of a corneal transplant.
A woman can return to her career because she received a bone graft during spinal surgery allowing her to walk.
A high school student can once again play soccer after a serious knee injury.
An infant can see the faces of those who love her for the first time.
A new heart beats strong giving someone a second chance at life.
In 2012, approximately 2,200 South Dakotans received a cornea, tissue or organ transplant. Chances are good that your lives are touched by one or more of these people.
Many thousands more will benefit from the knowledge and tools gained from research donations aimed at curing or treating cancer, diabetes and other diseases.
In addition, lives have been saved by the new or strengthened skills learned in Sioux Falls and Rapid City by paramedics, nurses and other emergency responders through donor family authorized EMS training.
Donors across South Dakota gave these gifts.
When your hearts were breaking, you reached out and gave permission, or supported your family member’s donor designation.
This kindness helped stop another heart from breaking. You made a difference; we are all forever touched and grateful.
We hope that as you read this, you will think of the compassion of the gifts given and if you have not already done so, decide to be a donor yourself when you do not need your sight and organs anymore.
Be a hero; tell your family and sign up at the Driver’s License Bureau to be a donor. You may also sign up to be a donor at www.donatelifesd.org.
We are proud that 55 percent of South Dakota drivers have already signed up as designated donors. This Christmas, please join the crowd.
For more information, call the South Dakota Lions Eye & Tissue Bank 605-373-1008.
And thank a Lions Club member in your community for starting and continuing to sponsor our Lions Eye and Tissue Bank.
Jens Saakvitne, Sioux Falls, is executive director of the South Dakota Lions Eye & Tissue Bank.