Donaldsonville family, state celebrate National Donate Life Month

DERON TALLEY @DeRonTalley
The family of Shawn Elizabeth Guillot celebrates National Donate Life Month, and honors her life with awareness of organ donation.

Approximately half of the U.S. adult population is registered as donors, 2,299,000 from the state of Louisiana. Still, the number of people in need of transplants continues to outpace the number of donor organs. On average, 21 people die each day because the organs they need are not donated in time.

To bring a means to this end, Donate Life Louisiana recognizes April as National Donate Life month, Governor Bobby Jindal proclaimed April as Organ Donation Awareness Month, and Donaldsonville’s own Don and Peggy Guillot are active supporters in bringing awareness after the couple donated their teen daughter’s organs.

Peggy and Don are grateful for organ donation. Their daughter, Shawn Elizabeth’s life was cut short due to a car accident while in high school. Don brought to the family’s attention of donation Shawn’s organs and at that time was not a traditional thing to do. The family agreed to do so and was able to donate her organs and corneas to save and heal the lives of six people. A decision both Don and Peggy are proud of.

Over 20 years later, the Guillot’s still find peace in the knowledge that their daughter, even after her passing, left such a significant legacy, affecting so many lives and families. 

“We are ardent advocates for donation,” Peggy Guillot said. “We speak to groups, stressing the importance of having a family discussion; and most importantly, we encourage others to register as organ, eye and tissue donors so their wishes are know.  In telling Shawn’s story, I try to capture the suddenness, the family struggle, the parental pain, the faith and above all, the ultimate willingness to overcome death by contributing to life.”

Registering to become a donor is the most effective way to ensure lives can be saved through donation.

This month-long celebration showcases the various perspectives of those touched by donation and transplantation. Every year since 2003, April has been filled with stories to spread the lifesaving message of donation in order to motivate people to register as organ, eye and tissue donors.

“With over 1,900 individuals in Louisiana waiting on life-saving organ transplants, it is our goal to ensure our community is properly informed about the importance of organ and tissue donation,” the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) said. “Our hope is to inspire a ‘yes’ from all those we come into contact with as we continue building on Louisiana's growing Organ and Tissue Donor Registry.”

“Our mission is to save and enhance lives through organ and tissue donation,” LOPA said. “We envision a time in which organ and tissue donation is accepted as a natural extension of life.”

In Governor Jindal’s Proclamation he stated, “whereas listing your name in the Louisiana Donor Registry provides hope for those whose life or productivity depends on a transplant.”

You can become a donor by registering at www.donatelifela.org.