April is National Donate Life Month. To honor local eye, organ and tissue donor families and recipients, Tri-County Health Care hosted a Donate Life flag raising ceremony on Tuesday, April 2, in front of the Garden of Hope on the Wesley lawn. More than 40 people gathered for the presentation and flag raising, according to a TCHC news release.

Joel Beiswenger, Tri-County president and CEO, addressed the crowd with a brief introduction before giving the mic over to Stephanie Larson, heart transplant recipient. She passed out cards to members of the crowd and asked them to write down their name in support of eye, organ and tissue donation or to write the name of a donor that they would like to recognize and honor.

Lois Miller, organ/tissue donation project lead, introduced the next speaker, Robby Grendahl, who in 1986 at the age of 15 became the youngest heart transplant recipient at the University of Minnesota. Grendahl told his story, stressed the importance of eye, organ and tissue donation, and expressed gratitude for those who make the lifesaving choice to register as a donor.

At the conclusion of the program, Grendahl and his family raised the Donate Life flag. It will fly over the Garden of Hope as part of Flags Across America, a national initiative designed to honor and celebrate the hundreds of thousands of donors and recipients.

Currently, there are almost 114,000 people who are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant, according to LifeSource. One person who says "yes" to being an organ donor can save and heal up to 75 lives through eye, organ and tissue donation. Those who are interested in committing to be a donor can do so online at donatelife.net/register or in person at your local DMV. If you are a Minnesota resident, you can also register online when purchasing a hunting or fishing license through the DNR.