HELENA – Thirty-five Montanans donated their organs in 2018 and their kindness was recognized on Friday with the Governor’s Gift of Life Award.
Families and friends of those donors gathered at the State Capitol for a ceremony where they received a certificate honoring their loved one.
“I hope you know that through it all, how meaningful it is that you’re here,” said Governor Steve Bullock to those in attendance, ”and how meaningful it is that through tragedy you have given hope to others…Today we get to honor those live that we lost and given life to others.”
Because those 35 Montanans were registered organ donors, 120 people were given a second chance at life last year.
Mark and Pamela Clary attended the events to honor their daughter Cassandra.
“Out of a very tragic and horrific event, she passed but was able to donate her organs and we’re very proud of her for making that decision before we ever thought of it,” said Pamela.
“I hope to meet the lives that Cass has touched, Those lives that are getting a second chance. This has opened up a whole lot more than just the five families that she has helped. I am learning so much more and am so very proud of her for teaching us those things.”
The Clarys are registered organ donors themselves and encourage others to do the same.
Montana has the highest number of registered organ donors per capita with close to 90% of eligible people participating in the program. The national average is only 58%.
“The power of organ donation is something we have the honor of seeing every day,” says Kevin O’Connor, CEO of LifeCenter Northwest. “We are fortunate to be able to share these amazing stories with the Governor while showing our gratitude to the donors and families that make it possible for us to do our life-saving work.”
LifeCenter Northwest is a federally designated organ procurement organization service Alaska, Montana, North Idaho and Washington.
In 2018 the organization facilitated donations from 271 organ and 556 tissue donors providing 878 organs for transplants and more than 69,000 processed tissue grafts.