Thursday, May 01, 2008
sponsored by Maple Ridge

Springfield girl raises awareness of the importance of organ donation

Shary Alwardt, a lung and heart transplant recipient, honored by Illinois Senate

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[May 01, 2008]  SPRINGFIELD -- Nineteen-year-old Shary Alwardt had a special message for lawmakers when she addressed the Illinois Senate on Tuesday: Organ donations save lives.

Alwardt, a double lung and heart transplant recipient from Springfield, was a "Page for the Day" in the Senate. She spoke to lawmakers from the Senate's podium to highlight awareness of April as Donate Life Month. On hand to support her were students from her government class at Lutheran High School and her family.

Alwardt had a heart and double lung transplant in 2005 after living with pulmonary hypertension for about three years. The donor was a young Ohio man named Patrick who had died in an accident. Patrick's family gave permission for his organs to be donated, which gave Alwardt and four other people a second chance at life.

"I'm eternally grateful to Patrick and his family for my chance to live a full life," Alwardt told lawmakers. "I will be graduating from high school this year thanks to the support and prayers I received before and after my transplant from the teachers and students at Lutheran High. In celebration of Donate Life Month, I hope you use your positions now and in the future to promote awareness of organ donation."

"This Donate Life Month, please sign up and ask others to do the same," said Sen. Larry Bomke. "There's an enormous need for donors. In Illinois alone, almost 5,000 people are waiting for organ transplants."

For more information on organ donation, individuals can go to or visit their local driver's license facility. Illinois currently has the largest donor registry in the nation, with more than 6 million names.

[Text from file received]

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