Idahoans celebrate National Donate Life Month
In the midst of tragedy, Jake Calton-Hughes gave life.
Jake, age 16, died in 2006 from an automobile accident. But because he was one of the 60 percent of Idahoans who decided to donate their organs, he saved four people’s lives and restored sight to two others.
To celebrate Jake’s and other Idahoan’s “Gift of Life” and to increase awareness of the importance of organ donation, the Idaho Transportation Department will host a ceremony designating April as National Donate Life Month. The ceremony will occur Wednesday (April 1) at noon, at the transportation department headquarters, 3311 W. State St., in Boise.
“Idaho is ranked in the top 10 of its citizens willing to donate organs,” Pamela Lowe, Director of the Idaho Transportation Department, said. “Becoming an organ donor is one of the most selfless gifts you can give. It is not surprising Idahoans lead the way in making this compassionate donation.”
Joining Lowe at the ceremony will be Jake Calton-Hughes’ mother, Veronica; Dolores Macias, of Boise, who recently donated a kidney that lead to a six donor, “paired exchange” that enabled six people to get kidney transplants; Teri Snider, representative of Visual Effects Salons in Boise and Garden City, who is promoting organ donation with her clients; and Alex McDonald from the Intermountain Donor Services organization.
Giving the gift of life helped Jake Calton-Hughes’ family lighten their grief.
“Knowing that Jake helped six people get their lives back takes some pain out of that awful day,” Veronica Marshall said. “Jake was always a very caring, giving person. I knew donation was the right choice that day.”
As Dolores Macias found, living kidney donation can also make a huge difference in people’s lives.
“I was one of six donors who donated a kidney on Valentine’s Day,” said Macias. “Johns Hopkins out of Baltimore led the effort and it involved three facilities, six surgeries in Baltimore (three donors, three recipients); four in Oklahoma (two donors, two recipients) and two in St. Louis (one donor/one recipient). That means twelve surgeries on Valentine’s Day. My kidney was on its way to Oklahoma before I came out of surgery. St Louis sent out one of its kidneys and Oklahoma sent out a kidney. It was crazy.”
Teri Snider, representative of Visual Effects Salon in Boise and Garden City, is taking on the activist role at her salons.
“The spouse of one of our employees’ needs a lung transplant. It has been a heart-breaking and painful experience to watch the downhill progression as they wait,” Snider said. “We want to do something, so we will be educating our clients about the need for donation. All of our locations will have posters up and brochures to hand out.”
More than 100,000 people are waiting for a life saving transplant nationwide. In Idaho, more than 300 people are waiting for a transplant. To register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor, say “yes” on your drivers license, or go to www.yesidaho.org and sign up.
For interviews, or further information about the April 1 event, please contact Alex McDonald, 1-800-833-6667, office, or 801-599-9937, cell.