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Giving the gift of life

Security officers raise flag honor National Donate Life month Methodist Hospital Northlake campus Gary Monday April 15 2013. The hospital

Security officers raise a flag in honor of National Donate Life month at Methodist Hospital Northlake campus in Gary Monday April 15, 2013. The hospital hosted a program commorating those who have received or continue to wait for lifesaving transplans as well as those who have donated organs or have agreed to be donors. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media

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Visit www.donatelifeindiana.org, GiftofHope.org or IndianaLionsEyeBank.org to learn more about how to be an organ, tissue or eye donor.

Updated: April 24, 2013 1:44PM



Christ United Methodist Church pastor Katurah Johnson celebrates two birthdays thanks to receiving a new heart in 2003.

Johnson was the keynote speaker at Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus’ Donate a Life flag-raising ceremony April 15 at the Gary hospital.

Representatives of the Methodist Hospitals Organ Donation Committee, the Gift of Hope Organ Tissue Donor Network and Indiana Lions Eye Bank gathered at the Northlake campus to celebrate April as National Donate Life Month and to raise a Donate Life flag just under the American flag at the hospital’s front entrance.

Johnson, 48, said she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy — an enlarged heart — as well as congestive heart failure in 2003 at the age of 43.

“My mother died from cardiomyopathy a month before her 49th birthday and my mother’s sister died of congestive heart failure at a young age,” Johnson said.

Johnson received a new heart July 24, 2003, after being on the transplant list for two months. “I was living in Elkhart at the time and when I got the call, I headed to Indianapolis and when I arrived I was told another person was on the list. Her name was Charlotte and she was a United Methodist layperson,” Johnson said.

After tests, Johnson was determined to be the stronger candidate for the new heart. Charlotte received a new heart three weeks later.

Rev. David Neville of Unity A.M.E. Zion Church in Merrillville is also chairman of the bio-ethics committee at Methodist hospitals. He said he registered as an organ tissue donor seven years ago.

“There are great benefits in being an organ tissue donor. You know that you’ve given someone another chance at life,” he said.

Mike Henderson is the hospital development coordinator for Indiana Lions Eye Bank. While announcing that in five years some 50 cornea donors have resulted in the gift of sight for 100 people, he too, knows the benefits of organ tissue donation.

“I am a two-time kidney transplant recipient. We embrace and encourage people to sign up and give back the gift of life,” he said.



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