News from President Toni Preckwinkle

Cook County Officials & IL Secretary of State Promote Organ Donation

Originally published January 4, 2011–Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele (2nd) in a partnership with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Secretary of State Jesse White and the Cook County Board of Commissioners are recognizing the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network and Donate Life Illinois for their work to promote awareness of organ and tissue donations.

Click here for more information on “Life Goes On”, the Illinois Secretary of State’s organ donation program

The Cook County Board is scheduled to approve today (Tuesday) a proclamation to recognize Jan. 4, 2011 as Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Day in Cook County.

Preckwinkle said it’s important to make opportunities to promote organ and tissue donations.

“More than 5,000 people here in Illinois are waiting right now life-saving organ transplants. We all know someone who has been touched by this issue. It’s an honor to be able to salute the people at Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network and Donate Life Illinois who are working day in and day out to coordinate and promote organ donations. Becoming an organ donor is an important personal commitment that saves tens of thousands of lives every year,” she said.

Steele is a recent recipient of an organ donation. In November 2010, he received a kidney his sister, Joyce Mosely donated during a successful procedure. Steele said his surgery and his sister’s generosity has helped him make a new commitment to promote education about organ donation in Cook County.

“This experience has taught me the importance of increasing awareness about preventative health care and education on illnesses that so often afflict members of our community. More importantly I would like to encourage people to learn more about becoming living organ donors and/or organ donors,” he said.

Minorities make up more than half of the patients on the Organ/Tissue Donor Registry.

White said it’s important for African-American leaders to promote increased awareness of organ and tissue donations. African-Americans, as a group, are twice as likely to suffer from diabetes and hypertension, both of which can lead to the need for an organ transplant in not property treated.

“I commend Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele, and the Cook County Board for helping to bring awareness to the issue of organ and tissue donation,” said Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who administers the state’s Organ/Tissue Donor Registry.  “Illinois has one of the largest organ and tissue donor registries in the nation with over 5.5 million, but sadly, each year, more than 300 lives are lost due to the lack of organs.  Currently there are almost 5,000 people waiting for life-saving organs.  You can help by signing up to become an organ and tissue donor at By joining the registry, many people can get the second chance that Commission Steele was fortunate enough to receive. ”

Under White’s leadership, Illinois has built one of the nation’s largest donor registries with more than 5.5 million participants.

White said donating blood is one simple way people can help. More than 4.5 million lives are saved each year through blood transfusions and 40,000 pints of blood are used daily in the United States.

“These types of organ transplants we hear about, they cannot happen without blood donations so we try to remind people about how donating blood is something they should try to do regularly,” White said.

Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network is a federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organization that coordinates organ and tissue donations and services to families of donors in the northern portion of Illinois and northwest Indiana. Gift of Hope works with 183 hospitals in educating some 11.7 million residents in their service area about donations and how to register as organ and/or tissue donors.

Donate Life Illinois is a coalition of donation-related agencies responsible for organ, tissue, eye, blood and marrow donation, education and organ/tissue donor registration.

Steele discussed his experiences and his sponsorship of the resolution at a press conference scheduled for 9:15 a.m. on the County Building, 118 N. Clark St., in the 5th Floor lobby.

He was joined by Preckwinkle, White and Dr. Joseph Levanthal, M.D. PHD, Director of Living Donor Kidney Transplant, Program Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Jackie Lynch, Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network; and Dr. Terry Mason, Cook County Bureau of Health Services.

The resolution will be presented to Jackie Lynch of Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network at the board meeting this Tuesday morning.