Despite 300,000 on Mississippi’s registry, the need for donors is great.
By Ginny Miller
TUPELO – Two ceremonies will be held Sunday to honor organ and tissue donors and recipients, as well as bring awareness to a need for more.
“This is our second year to do this,” said Charlotte Mullinnix, director of corporate relations for the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency.
The agency, along with the City of Tupelo, the Tupelo Public Works Department and the Second Chance Transplant Awareness Group of Northeast Mississippi, will host a Tree of Life Commemoration at 2 p.m. in front of City Hall.
“It’s a really nice ceremony,” Mullinnix said. “The families put a ribbon on the tree and say a few words.”
It will be followed by a donor family recognition at 3 p.m. in the Link Center Reception Hall. The new venue was needed, Mullinnix said, after an unexpected overflow crowd at the GumTree Museum of Art last year. She noted the guest speaker on Sunday will be Sarah Bullard of Corinth, who was a year old when she underwent a liver transplant in 1994.
Mullinnix said the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency is a federally designated organ procurement organization that works with hospitals throughout the state. The Tupelo office handles cases from Iuka to Meridian.
In the past, the agency contacted family members for permission to procure their deceased loved ones’ organs, even if such wishes already were indicated on the back of a driver’s license. That changed last year with passage of a donor registration law called first-person consent.
Potential donors can still mark their driver’s licenses, or they can register online at donatelifems.org, Mullinnix said, adding there are about 300,000 on the state registry.
“But there’s still a huge shortage of donors,” she said, because not every potential donor is a viable one. “In the state of Mississippi, only 2-3 percent of the deaths will ever be potential candidates.”
Still, 100,000 people in the United States are in need of some sort of organ transplant, Mullinnix said, with about half of those needing kidneys.
Other organs in need are hearts, lungs, livers and pancreas, while tissue donations include corneas, bone and skin.
“One organ and tissue donor can help 75 people or more,” she said.
Contact Ginny Miller at (662) 678-1582 or firstname.lastname@example.org.