The Iowa Donor Network based in North Liberty is celebrating two decades of operation this year. Spokesman Tony Hake says they debated the best way to the years of lining up donors for organ and tissue donations. “We thought about doing maybe just one or two events, but then we thought we might as well celebrate year round,” Hakes says. “We actually kicked off the year with a Pay It Forward campaign and we are going to do that all year long.”
The Pay it Forward campaign encourages Iowans to help others by registering as an organ and tissue donor. There are some other special events that will happen during the celebration. “We are sponsoring the Transplant Games Of America with team Iowa this year. Those are going to be in Houston this summer. We are also to break ground on a new facility in the Des Moines area this spring,” Hakes says.
The new facility planned for Altoona would replace the one currently operating in Johnston. “We have outgrown that facility and so we’re actually going to be building a new facility from the ground up that will house our 24-hour communications center,” Hakes explains. “We’ll have two tissue-rcovery suites in house and really enough room for 50 to 60 — maybe even 70 to 80 — employees as we continue to grow.”
Hakes doesn’t have an exact number on how many people may’ve been saved or helped with organ and tissue donations in the 20 years — but he says it’s likely in the thousands. “Last year we had about 70 organ donors and about a thousand tissue donors. One organ donor can save the lives of up to nine people. One tissue donor can enhance and save the lives of 50 to 100,” according to Hakes.
He says when you look at the impact of organ and tissue donation, it’s likely touched many more people in some way. “When you think of one person’s life that is saved, and all of their family that knows them and all of their friends, I mean it really just impacts pretty much the entire state,” Hakes says.
You can find a complete list of events for the 20-year anniversary celebration at www.iowadonornetwork.org. Hakes also encourages you to go to the website and sign up to be an organ donor.