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Organ donation truly is giving the gift of life

Foresight and selflessness can truly be the difference between life and death for someone in need of an organ transplant.

That makes the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust For Life, an effort led by Clark County’s own Arthur M. “Whitey” Walson, even more special. 

Walson was the circuit court clerk in Clark County. He lost a family member waiting for a heart transplant. It was then that he decided to work with other circuit court clerks to help ensure no one would lose a loved one waiting for a transplant. 

Somewhat progressively, the group knew education about organ donation was the key to saving lives.

Fast forward 25 years and 54 percent of Kentuckians, or more than 1.8 million people, have joined the Kentucky Donor Registry. 

All Kentuckians obtaining a license or ID at their circuit court clerk’s office are asked about joining the registry and donating $1 for public education about organ donation through TFL. Also, people may join online at www.donatelifeky.org.

More than $9 million has been raised for organ and tissue donation awareness programs across the state. This includes the dollars raised at the circuit court clerk’s offices, grants from partners Kosair Charities and Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, and individual contributions.

But the need remains critical.

Nearly 117,000 people are awaiting a life-saving transplant in the U.S., including 1,000 patients in Kentucky.

Reaching the 25-year benchmark, it is time to commemorate this important milestone.

There will be a celebration at 2 p.m. today at the Clark Circuit Clerk’s office in the James Clark Judicial Annex. The group will also host the Gift of Life 5K on Sept. 16. More information is available on the Trust For Life’s Facebook page or www.trustforlife.org.

TFL Executive Director Shelley Snyder summed up this effort eloquently.

“I can’t begin to count how many lives have been changed and saved because of their efforts.”

That is a powerful statement to commemorate an important anniversary. Here’s to saving lives for another 25 years and beyond.