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CRMC kicks off Donate Life Month

Every April, a new flag with a white background and a hint of green is added to the flag pole in front of Cookeville Regional Medical Center’s north entrance.

It is the Donate Life flag, symbolizing April as National Donor Organ Awareness Month.

“Becoming an organ donor is a decision that can impact so many lives,” said Angela Craig, ICU nurse clinical specialist. “And it is so easy to do.”

Donate Life America and Cookeville Regional Medical Center celebrates National Donate Life Month, an observance to focus national attention on the need and importance of organ, eye and tissue donation. National Donate Life Month is about the importance of registering your decision to be a donor, honoring deceased and living donors and recognizing that the generosity of donors makes saving lives through transplantation possible.

CRMC CEO Paul Korth said registering to be an organ donor is the ultimate life-saving sacrifice.

“So many people are on waiting lists for organs right now,” he said. “Anyone can leave a legacy through becoming an organ donor.”

More than 100,000 people across the country are currently waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, with more than 3,000 of those in Tennessee. Thousands more are waiting for life-saving cornea and tissue transplants.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people in dire need of organs who die every day, whether from heart, lung, kidney or liver failure,” said David Phillips, CRMC surgery director. “There are children whose life expectancy isn’t more than 10 or 15 years with (severe cystic fibrosis) and there’s an opportunity through lung transplants they can live a normal and healthy life.”

The usual organs – heart, kidneys and lungs being the most known — are not the only things that can be donated.

“There’s tissue donation as well,” Phillips said. “There are a lot of people involved in motor vehicle accidents who have terrible injuries…and instead of amputating, we have an opportunity to rebuild those structures.”

With tissue donation, many more people can be impacted.

“In our operating room, we use…bone tissue from what people have donated in a lot of our surgeries,” Phillips said. “You could touch the lives of over 200-300 different people.”

For more information, visit


  • In 2020, more than 39,000 transplants nationally and 1,137 in Tennesseans brought renewed life to patients and their families. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  • More than 100,000 people are waiting for life-saving organ transplants, more than 3,000 in Tennessee alone.
  • 60 percent of patients awaiting lifesaving transplants are minorities, 54 percent in Tennessee.
  • Another person is added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list every 10 minutes.
  • Sadly, 7,000 people die each year (on average 20 people each day — almost one person each hour) because the organs they need are not donated in time.


  • 85 percent of patients on the waiting list are waiting for a kidney, 88 percent in Tennessee. The average waiting time for a kidney from a deceased donor is 3 to 5 years. A kidney from a living donor offers patients an alternative to years of dialysis and time on the national transplant waiting list (the living donor’s remaining kidney will increase in size, doing the work of two healthy kidneys).
  • 11 percent of patients waiting need a liver, 8 percent in Tennessee. Living donation of part of the liver can help these patients (the remaining portion of the donor liver will regenerate and regain full function).
  • More than one-third of all deceased donors are age 50 or older; 7 percent are age 65 or older.


  • Each year, there are approximately 58,000 tissue donors and more than 2.5 million tissue transplants; the surgical need for donated tissue is steadily rising.
  • A single tissue donor can help more than 75 people.


  • More than 66,000 corneas were provided for sight restoring transplants in 2020.


  • More than 165 million people are registered organ, eye and tissue donors. *

To register your decision to save and heal lives, visit To learn more about organ, eye, tissue and living donation, visit

* Living donation is not included in a donor registration.

Data from the Donate Life America Registry Overview Report and the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) as March 2, 2021.