COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Hundreds gathered at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for an event celebrating the benefits of organ donation.
The 14th annual Buckeye Pinwheel Planting and Transplant Reunion was hosted by OSU Wexner Medical Center, which kicks off ‘Donate Life Month.’ It was a chance to honor former transplant patients, deceased organ donors, and living kidney and living liver donors.
The event began with a dedication ceremony for the thousands of red and silver pinwheels which symbolize every organ transplant performed at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center since its first organ transplant, a kidney, in 1967.
With eight spokes supported by one stem, the pinwheel symbolizes the power of one person to save up to eight lives through organ donation. The pinwheels will be on display throughout April.
Sunday’s event meant a lot to those who attended.
“It means everything, I mean the gift of life is the best gift in the world,” said Frank Olterman who received a new heart just 5 months ago, “I got the call on a Sunday morning at 9 o’clock that they had a heart for me…on October 18th, on Monday morning I had my transplant.”
For Olterman it was something he never thought he would need. “What I thought was great health…it just dropped me like a rock,” Olterman said as he described his heart attack.
He’s not the only one who felt that way. Rebecca Harris was just 29 years old when she suddenly didn’t feel right. She needed a new liver, and within a few days, she had one.
“We’re here for the same reason,” said Harris, “we all love and appreciate more than anyone can imagine how much our donors mean to us.”
Both Olterman and Harris say that changed their perspectives and they are hoping events like these will encourage others to do what they can.
As ‘Donate Life Month’ continues throughout the month, OSU Wexner Medical Center provided statistics about organ donation. Right now, more than 106,000 Americans are waiting for a transplant.
Just last year, OSU performed 601 transplants and ranked No. 7 for overall organ volume in the United States.
For more information about organ donation at OSU, you can visit their website.