Donate Life® program honors deceased donors whose organs, tissues change lives
Butterfly sculpture dedication scheduled Friday, April 3rd at 2 p.m.
April 1, 2009 – Virginia Beach, VA – “The transplant changed my life!” exclaims Joe Leake, a Virginia Beach resident who received a life-saving liver transplant in March of 2008.
Leake, a merchant mariner, was home from sea taking care of his son while his fiancé was on active duty in Iraq. On March 3rd, he began suffering flu-like symptoms. After just a few days, he was sick enough to call 911 and a volunteer rescue squad took him to Sentara Bayside Hospital. The next thing Leake remembers is waking up at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond with a new liver from a deceased donor. Joe was told he had almost died from acute liver failure.
“It was a miracle, to be honest with you,” Leake recalls. “I was on the donor list for all of two days and the doctor gave me 12 hours to live.
“By the grace of God,” Leake says, “they found a liver.” Last October, Leake met the mother of his deceased donor, an 18 year-old college student who died accidently.
“I will cherish this gift because it saved my life,” Leake says. “I am so fortunate to be here.”
Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital joins ‘Donate Life’ flag campaign
The organ donation team at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital understands the significance of organ donation, not just for recipients, but for the families of deceased donors who often find comfort in knowing that their tragedy helped save or improve the lives of others.
“We’re excited to be a part of the national Donate Life flag program,” says Roger Gauthier, a chaplain at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital and a member of its organ donation team.
“A flag honoring deceased donors is a great way to educate the public about the work we do at our hospital and what people are willing to do for others.”
Initially, the ‘Donate Life’ flag will fly daily in front of the main visitor entrance during April, which is National Donate Life Month. After that, it will fly daily for a week each time a deceased donor offers organs and tissues for transplant.
“Each donor has the potential to save seven lives through organ donation,” says Dena Reynolds, spokesperson for LifeNet Health, the not-for-profit organ and tissue agency based in Virginia Beach. “Tissue donation can greatly improve the lives of 50 more patients.”
Butterfly Sculpture dedication scheduled Friday, April 3rd 2 p.m.
Artistic renderings of butterflies are often employed to represent organ donation and renowned artist Pamela Lassiter has created a butterfly sculpture to be dedicated Friday, April 3rd, at 2 p.m. at the Health Education Center building on the Sentara Virginia Beach General campus. The center is on the south end of the campus across from the emergency department. After the dedication, the sculpture will be on permanent display in the main lobby of the hospital.
During the dedication ceremony, the names of past organ donors will be read and Joe Leake will toll a bell for each person, a powerful ceremonial eulogy for those whose generosity of spirit gave others a ‘second chance.’
Joe Leake now volunteers with LifeNet Health and encourages people to become organ donors as a way of repaying the young man whose donation helped save his life.
“It has definitely changed my perspective,” Leake says. “I’m part of the team now."
Learn more about organ donation and transplants:
United Network for Organ Sharing
Sentara Transplant Center