MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Friday marks the start of National Donor Sabbath which asks places of worship to talk about organ donation with their congregation.
There’s even a friendly competition associated with it.
The church that registers the most donors could win $500.00 in Amazon gift cards.
However, the real prize comes with the lives that might be saved, like Jeanna Cantey.
“The feeling of not being able to breathe, it’s just rough,” Cantey said.
15 years ago, Cantey fought for every breath. Cystic Fibrosis was attacking her lungs, and she needed a double lung transplant.
“It causes, like chronic lung infections, pneumonia, hospital visits, lots of IV medications,” Cantey said.
After fighting her entire life, she finally got the call she and her husband had been praying for since she was placed on the transplant list 14 months prior.
According to the Mid-South Transplant Foundation, there are 4,000 people in West Tennessee, North Mississippi and East Arkansas waiting to get that call for a life-saving organ or tissue donation.
Which is why every year, the foundation turns to the faith-based community to help them sign more people up to be organ donors.
“So when we express our wishes to use our bodies to actually bless someone else, there’s no greater love than that,” St. Patrick Presbyterian Church associate pastor Joshua Smith said.
He and his congregation will be participating in the “Give Life Church Challenge”, using this weekend to encourage parishioners to make a decision today about organ donation.
It’s something that hits home for Smith.
“About 5 years ago, my father-in-law passed away unexpectedly, and we were just in an uproar. There were so many things that we had to deal with and talk about and question,” Smith said.
Smith said, “One of the things we didn’t have to worry about was organ donation and tissue donation because he had already made his wishes expressed.”
One organ and tissue donor can save the lives of up to 8 people.
Cantey has never had a chance to meet the family of her donor, but she says she’s thought about her often like when she was able to attend her daughter’s wedding or play with her grandchildren.
“Two years after her transplant, we pretty much adopted three kids,” Cantey’s husband David said.
So much life she was able to experience thanks to someone’s life-saving decision.
If your church would like to participate in the “Give Life Church Challenge”, you can learn more at https://midsouthtransplant.org/
You can also learn more about how to register to be a donor.