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Advocates Rallied for Donation at MN State Capitol on Feb. 13

Advocates gathered to thank Minnesota’s elected officials for their past support of organ, eye and tissue donation and ask for their support in the months and years ahead.

On February 13, 2020, donor families, transplant recipients, clinical partners and LifeSource team members gathered at the Minnesota State Capitol to thank their elected officials for supporting past life-saving legislation and ask for their continued support in the months and years ahead.

Everyone has a story to tell.

The day started with speeches from LifeSource Chief Executive Officer Susan Gunderson, Gary Bougie and transplant surgeon Dr. Raja Kandaswamy – who each shared their passions and why it is so important to say “yes” to donation.

Susan Gunderson highlighted the strong hospital and transplant center partnerships, passionate advocates and – most importantly – generous donors and their families who contributed to the record year of donation in LifeSource’s 30-year history. Listen to her remarks here.

Gary Bougie chronicled his experience of saying “yes” to donation and becoming a donor family member; Gary’s son, Gary Joseph Bougie, gave the ultimate gift of life and healing through tissue and eye donation in April 2014. And, this one decision completely changed his family’s perspective on donation; Gary called for everyone to share their own story and why they are registered as a donor.

Watch Gary Bougie’s story here.

“Donation offered me hope that what happened to my son wasn’t in vain. It offered me healing with my grief. How did it offer me life? It offered me a new lease on life and a new perspective. Without donation, none of this would have happened.”

– Gary Bougie, father of tissue and eye donor Gary Joseph Bougie

Dr. Raja Kandaswamy spoke on the remarkable differences donation makes on a transplant recipient’s life – all due to the selfless generosity of donors and their families. He shared the story of Payton, a little girl who had hours left to live and was given the opportunity of more life. Many years later, Payton continues to honor her donor’s legacy.

Watch Dr. Kandaswamy’s remarks here.

Minnesota’s legislative support of donation is strong.

Minnesota’s elected officials helped enact several bills that significantly contributed to the state’s high rate of donor registration, including:

As a result of strong advocacy, Minnesota’s donor designation increased from 40% in 2004 to 70% in 2019; that’s compared to the 58% national average. We were privileged to meet with thirty-one state representatives and nineteen senators to personally thank them for their continued support and energize them for the work in front of us.

“We are relentlessly pursuing a day where no one dies waiting for a life-saving organ transplant and all patients have access to the highest quality, life-altering skin and cornea tissues.”

Susan Gunderson, LifeSource Chief Executive Officer

But, our work is not done. We need 100 percent participation from our community. Each of you plays an important role in making donation and transplantation happen.

A special thank you to our partners from Mayo Clinic, Fairview Health Services, Allina Health, Dakota Lions Sight & Health and the National Kidney Foundation for joining us.

And to our incredible LifeSource Donate Life Ambassadors who are really the heart and soul creating support for donation in our community.

Advocate for Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation

Are you interested in connecting with your state representative or senator about donation? Please contact Communications Coordinator Erin Lilliencrantz to get involved at the capitol and to learn more about legislature’s support of donation.

Thank you for your energy and passion to make organ, eye and tissue donation happen!