National Donate Life month has deeper meaning for some

April is National Donate Life month, a chance to raise awareness for the need for organ donation, for goodness' sake.

"Nationally, there are 15,000 people waiting for a transplant and right here at Jefferson there are 700 people waiting for that call for that gift life," said Howard Nathan.

Nathan, of Gift of Life, reminds all that every April, the nation recognizes National Donate Life month. For many, statistics are not the thing that makes the largest impact.

It's hearing the stories from donor and recipient families like Donna Rittershausen.

"I've been a donor for decades, but I had never really thought about what it meant," Rittershausen said.

The potential impact of being an organ donor changes when people have an opportunity to listen to the stories of those who have received the gift of life.

"My husband had end stage liver disease. No family ever wants to hear that someone they care about has end stage anything," Rittershausen stated.

Donna stood there with her husband, just months removed from his liver transplant and shared the struggle of the family and their young children hoping for a second chance at life.

"There are a lot of families that wait and pray and hope with no end in sight," Rittershausen explained.

Because of a liver donation, they got another chance. John Branton also got the life-saving call and shared how emotional an experience it was.

"I don't know who they are or where they are or what their family's like. It was a very emotional night," Branton said.

But, he hopes the donor family knows how much of a difference they made.

"I got to go back to who I was before I ever got the liver disease. I didn't just get better, I went back to being a normal person again," Branton said.

Cynthia London represents the other side of organ donation. She experienced the senseless death of her son Sepo over 20 years ago.

"We got the call that Sepo tragically was shot. He was in Hahnemann Hospital with five gunshot wounds," said London.

She touched the audience with how she has turned personal tragedy into a story of selfless dedication to others.

"Sepo Timba, which is a South African name meaning gift of hope, and I always said he was my gift and he brought hope to six other people upon his death," London explained.

And, she hopes everyone will join her mission.

"Sepo was only 22 when he passed, but his legacy was six other people benefitted," London said.

April is Donate Life month and hopefully people will give a little more thought to that often overlooked stamp on the license and consider how people play a part in possible tragedy also providing a gift of life for goodness' sake.