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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 19, 1997




Giving life to another through an organ or tissue transplant is one of the most selfless human acts. The person choosing to become a donor usually receives no tangible thanks and gains no fame or glory from the gesture. And yet the decision to sign a donor card does give the donor a quiet, inner fulfillment in the knowledge that he or she may one day help save a life, bringing new joy to another person and their family. Often, for many Americans, this sense of fulfillment is sufficient thanks.

Today, more than 50,000 Americans are on the national transplant waiting list and about 2,000 more people need transplants every month. Unfortunately, even though this country has an adequate supply of individuals who qualify as organ donors, many people have still not chosen to become one. Patients in truly desperate circumstances are depending on their fellow Americans to choose to become organ and tissue donors.

Stunning advances in transplant research and technology have made miracles possible, but we must do our part to make the dreams of people awaiting transplants become reality. Many Americans are unaware of the national shortage of organ donors, and all of us must work together to spread the word.

Let us take advantage of our enormous power to save a life or to enrich the quality of life for those who otherwise face endless pain, torment, or death. I urge every American to respond to the urgent call for organ and tissue donors by signing a donor card immediately. Let us also reach out to educate our fellow Americans about the importance of organ and tissue donations. We must work with our religious communities and community organizations to spread this important message. The Federal Government has already established partnerships with the Union of Hebrew Congregations and the Congress of National Black Churches in an effort to educate congregations and clergy across our Nation through sermons, Sunday school programs, and community events. We should do more.

We should recognize that our greatest ambassadors for organ and tissue donation are donors, donor families and recipients. Their personal stories have motivated and inspired others, and we should take better advantage of these great resources. Taken together, these and other efforts will save the lives of countless loved ones. And we should take the opportunity to recognize and celebrate Americans who donate these gifts of life.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 20 through April 26, 1997, as National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week. I call upon health care professionals, educators, the media, public and private organizations concerned with organ donation and transplantation, and all the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate activities and programs that promote organ donation and invite new donors to become involved.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this nineteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-first.


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