Give the gift of life: BloodCenter encourages organ donation during Donate Life Month

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- In Wisconsin, there are currently more than 2,400 people on the waiting list for an organ transplant. The BloodCenter of Wisconsin is trying to lower that number, and with April being National Donate Life Month, it's the perfect time to remind folks of the importance of registering to be an organ donor, and give the gift of life.

In an effort to raise awareness about the importance of organ and tissue donation, volunteers hung crocheted butterflies outside of BloodCenter headquarters on the trees along Wisconsin Avenue at 18th Street.

The butterflies are a symbol of rebirth and new life and are hung in tribute to organ donors and donor families.

One of those donors was Colette Shumpert's son, Michael Brown, Jr.

The 24-year-old was fatally shot in Milwaukee while in a car with a friend in December of 2012.  Michael Brown Jr. was a registered organ donor, and as a result, his organs and tissue helped to enhance and save the lives of 10 people.

"I'm grateful because his life has a legacy that many of us will never had the opportunity of having," said Shumpert.

More than 2,400 Wisconsinites and 123,000 Americans are awaiting organ transplants.

"Unfortunately, every day, 21 people are dying -- waiting for their chance to have an organ," said Greg Asmus, Hospital Development Supervisor at the BloodCenter of Wisconsin.

Volunteers are hoping the crocheted butterflies will help change somebody's mind, and maybe save a life.

"Every time I hang a butterfly, it feels like this is Michael. This is a part of him," Shumpert said.

As home to the Wisconsin Donor Network and the Wisconsin Tissue Bank, BloodCenter of Wisconsin is dedicated to saving and extending the lives of patients while caring for donor families. In 2014, the BloodCenter facilitated nearly 200 life-saving organ transplants.

You can make difference by:

  • Register to become an organ, tissue and eye donor;
  • Join the Be The Match marrow donation registry;
  • Donate blood regularly through BloodCenter of Wisconsin;
  • Honor donors and donor families who have saved lives and improved the quality of life for others.