April is Organ Donation Month and for one Kodiak woman, it’s a month to celebrate life and to encourage people to think about signing up as donors.
When she was 41 years old, Donna Bell caught a virus that injured her heart. From there her health started to deteriorate.
— (Donor Month 1 "My family members … barely do anything.")
Eight years after contracting the virus. Bell had only one chance for survival and that was to have her ailing heart replaced.
After a few false starts and dashed hopes, she went to Seattle and waited in a hospital where she was on a heart recipient list. Three days after she was admitted, she got word that a heart might be available for her.
— (Donor Month 2 "So, I didn’t … son’s organs.")
On April 13th 2002 she got a new heart. The surgery, which took four hours and fifteen minutes, changed Bell’s life forever.
She said that when a person makes the decision to become an organ donor, that decision can have far-reaching effects.
— (Donor Month 3 "Oh! One person … amazing the list.")
Every April, Bell conducts her own media blitz to encourage people to sign up as organ donors. She takes out newspaper ads and talks to anyone willing to listen to her story. She does this to commemorate both Organ Donation Month and the anniversary of her heart transplant.
— (Donor Month 4 "One person has … an organ donor.")
Bell explained that there is a great deal of misinformation currently being spread about the donation of organs. She tries to assure people that there are very strict rules in place to govern such procedures.
As part of her campaign to promote awareness Bell said that she is available and eager to speak to local organizations. She said that it makes her happy when people say that she inspired them to become donors.
Bell said that it’s especially satisfying when a teenager comes up to show her the red heart on their driver’s license.