'Get a Heart, Give a Heart'

February 13, 2023

Mayor Hopkins, NEDS Encourage Residents to Sign as Organ Donors this Valentine's Day

CRANSTON – On Friday, Feb. 10, Mayor Kenneth J. Hopkins was joined by the New England Donor Services, as well as local organ donors and recipients, to encourage Cranston residents to sign up as organ donors and help Rhode Island surpass the national goal of up to 50 percent of our driving population.

Hopkins, New England Donor Services  RI DMV Administrator Bud Craddock, and others gathered at City Hall to celebrate the upcoming Valentine’s Day and national Organ Donor Day. Local organ donors and recipients shared their personal, life-saving experiences.

“As the Valentine’s holiday approaches, we’re seeing red and pink hearts popping up everywhere,” Mayor Hopkins said Friday. “With hearts on the brain, we would like to encourage residents to take on the simple act of signing up as a donor and receive the ‘heart’ symbol on your driver’s license or I.D. Signing up as an organ donor today could save a life tomorrow.”

Last year, more than 1,300 lives were saved in New England by organ donations – a 7.9 percent increase from 2021. While there are now more than 170 million registered organ donors in the United States, the number of people in need of transplants also continues to rise.

Most individuals in RI who register as an organ and tissue donor do so at the state Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). To register to be a donor outside the DMV office, or for more information, visit www.RegisterMe.org.

Last Friday, Cranston resident Terry Perrotta shared her story as a lung transplant recipient. She said she is living proof that signing up as an organ donor could give someone else a second life. In 2003, Perrotta was diagnosed with Idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH) which is a rare disease characterized by elevated pulmonary artery pressure with no apparent cause. At the time of her diagnosis, her doctor told her she likely only had a year to live.

She continued to work with oxygen support for most of a decade until her condition worsened in 2012. Perrotta went into a medical coma and was put on life-support, in 2013. She was then flown to a hospital in Columbus, Ohio, where she was given a two-percent chance of survival. Miraculously, after arriving in Ohio, Perrotta said they got a call notifying her family that they had a perfect match for a lung donation.

“The next morning, I had a lung transplant, and my life was saved,” Perrotta said.

Rambo Tran, an active-duty military member, shared his story of donating 70 percent of his liver to his father who was diagnosed with liver cancer. His father is alive and healthy to this day, Tran said, and has been able to see his grandson, and soon his granddaughter, be born.

The celebration of Valentine’s Day and national Organ Donor Day commemorates those who have received or continue to wait for lifesaving transplants as well as the families of individuals who chose to be donors. With the need for life-saving transplants growing every day - over 104,300 patients are now on the US transplant wait list - it is crucial to educate our communities about taking action to register as donors.

After hearing from guest speakers, Mayor Hopkins presented Boger with a proclamation paying tribute to organ and tissue donors and their families “whose decision to Donate Life enables others to receive life-saving organs and tissues for transplant,” and proclaiming February 14th, Valentine’s Day, as “Have a Heart and Give a Heart Day” in the City of Cranston.