April is National Donate Life Month: a time to recognize the need that many patients have for replacement organs. It’s also a time to express gratitude to those who chose to meet that need through the process of donation.

Established in 2003 by Donate Life America and its partnering organizations, National Donate Life Month features an entire month of local, regional, and national activities to help encourage Americans to register as organ, eye, and tissue donors, and to celebrate those that have saved lives through the gift of donation.

The theme for National Donate Life Month 2020 was inspired by the springtime scene of a garden. A garden and the insects within it serve as symbols of hope, courage, and transformed life – all themes repeatedly found within the donation and transplantation journey.

While saving lives is the major priority for most donation programs, McGovern Medical School has an additional need. Donations of whole bodies are necessary for the education of medical students and the continuing education of residents and practicing physicians.

The Willed Body Program at McGovern Medical School receives around 300 donations per year, and while that number is sufficient in meeting the needs of medical student education, the Willed Body Program also supports other programs in the Houston area and around the state that lack their own programs.

The Willed Body Program at McGovern also aids Houston area hospitals with resident and physician training in surgical techniques, including Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, Houston Methodist, and MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Individuals interesting in learning more about the Willed Body Program can contact the program coordinator, Tammy Guillen at Tamatha.D.Guillen@uth.tmc.edu. The program can also receive donations after death at the request of the legal next of kin. Unfortunately, not every donation can be accepted, but Guillen can help families through the donation process.