On Wednesday, April 11 at 11:05am Hennepin Healthcare will celebrate the thousands of lives changed thanks to its 55th year of kidney transplant at a flag-raising ceremony outside HCMC’s 717 South 6th St. entrance. Every year Hennepin Healthcare honors donors and their families who have given organs, tissue, eyes and blood at this flag-raising ceremony to mark National Donate Life Month.
Attending this year’s Donate Life celebration will be special guests John Nelson, who received a kidney from his sister, Kris Roberts on October 23, 1975 – 42 years ago! Nelson and Roberts will be driving all the way from South Dakota for the flag-raising ceremony.
“So much has happened in the past 42 years that would not have been possible without my sister’s generous donation,” explains Nelson, a 75-year-old who retired from a successful career in the South Dakota Health Department.
“I was on dialysis in 1974 and at that time the life expectancy for someone with my diagnosis was 5 years. But after transplant surgery, I went on to complete a 35-year career in public heath microbiology. My wife and I have been married for 53 years. Thirty-nine years ago we adopted our daughter, and we now also have a grandson.”
Organ, tissue and eye donations provide renewed hope to thousands of people waiting for transplants each year. Through the remarkable process of donation, it is possible for a single donor to save or enhance the lives of up to 60 people. Such hope is truly a gift – one made possible by the generosity of individuals who said “yes” to donation and made the decision to give life or sight to those in need.
On Wednesday, April 5, Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) continues its annual tradition of celebrating those who have given and received the gift of life and sight through organ donation. The annual flag-raising ceremony will take place in front of its 717 S. Sixth St. entrance at 9:40am.
Since completing the upper Midwest’s first kidney transplant in 1963, HCMC’s transplant program has performed over 2,700 kidney transplants, with an increasing percentage involving living donors. In 2010 the first paired exchange transplant in the upper Midwest was completed at HCMC, adding to its 54-year history of “firsts” in transplant care.
HCMC is a Level I Adult and Level I Pediatric Trauma Center and public teaching hospital. The centerpiece of Hennepin County’s clinical health services, HCMC offers a full spectrum of inpatient and outpatient services, including its Transplant Program, which recently marked its 54th year of providing state-of-the-art transplant services.