You don’t have to tell Barb Fuglsany about the importance of American Heart Month or National Donor Day. Her son was born with a congenital heart disease that required him to need a heart transplant. “He did really well for a long time and then something happened and things just went south when he was 21,” Fuglsany says. “A heart transplant was his only option.”
He received the gift of a heart transplant in November of 2018 and Fuglsany says her son is flourishing. “Today, he's doing really well. His health is really good. He has a job and is finishing his degree in business management,” she says. “It’s a rough way to go but I think things are moving in the right direction for him.”
Fuglsany’s story, and so many others like it, highlight the reasons why American Heart Month, commemorated every February, and National Donor Day, celebrated February 14, are so critical for raising awareness about heart disease and organ donation.
What is American Heart Month?
Since 1963, February has been celebrated as American Heart Month by the American Heart Association to urge Americans to join the battle against heart disease. Heart disease kills an estimated 630,000 Americans each year and is the leading cause of death for both men and women. A presidential proclamation pays tribute each year to researchers, physicians, public health professionals, and volunteers for their tireless efforts in preventing, treating, and researching heart disease.
Why does American Heart Month matter? Consider this: one in four deaths in the United States is caused by heart disease. And recent research shows that many people lack education about cardiovascular conditions and the warning signs. Therefore, American Heart Month serves as an important resource to close the gap, address the lack of awareness, and encourage people to seek out ways to keep their hearts healthy.
National Donor Day highlights the need for life-saving transplants
Valentine’s Day, which is also observed in February, is a day that’s synonymous with hearts and showing how much you care for others. But did you know that February 14 is also National Donor Day? It celebrates donors and loved ones who have given the gift of life, have received a donation, are currently waiting, or did not receive a lifesaving organ in time. In addition, it’s a time to focus on all types of donation – organ, eye, tissue – by participating in donor registration events.
National Donor Day is also the perfect opportunity to raise awareness through conversation of the lifesaving benefits of organ, eye, and tissue donation. One way to show how much you care for others is to sign up to be a registered organ, eye, and tissue donor. Already registered? Great! Be sure to share your wishes with your loved ones. National Donor Day is the perfect time to have that conversation. Your loved ones can advocate for you and help with the process to ensure your wishes are honored and you’re able to leave a lifesaving legacy.
Another way to get involved with National Donor Day is to encourage others to sign up for the donor registry, and increase the chance that patients waiting will get the transplants they need to survive. Consider providing hope to the more than 100,000 people awaiting lifesaving organ transplants and the hundreds of thousands more in need of transplants, like Fuglsany’s son. And if you have a connection to donation that you’re comfortable sharing, let others know about your experience. Our Facebook page is a growing community of those impacted by the Donate Life mission. Be sure to follow along and share your connection.
More than 2,000 heart transplants are performed in the United States each year. February is an important month for heart disease awareness and to get involved with organ donation.