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The History of National Donate Life Month (observed in April)
In 2003, President Bush first announced that the month of April will be observed as National Donate Life Month, a time to raise public awareness of the critical need for organ, tissue, marrow, and blood donation.
Originally known as National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week and celebrated for one week in April, that observance was the result of smaller, independent efforts around the Nation to recognize the altruism and generosity of organ and tissue donors.
In 1983, the Congress of the United States "authorized and requested" the President to "issue a Proclamation designating April 22 through April 29, 1984 as National Organ Donation Awareness Week." Aware that many more tissue donations are made each year than organ donations, "Tissue" was soon added to the name, and the third full week of April became the traditional time of observance.
Over the years, many participating organizations and individuals found it restrictive to limit special donation awareness efforts to one week in April-especially as the week often conflicted with other observances such as National Volunteer Week, or at times, with Passover or Holy Week.
The change to a month-long observance of "National Donate Life Month" underscores the importance of donation of not only organs and tissues, but also marrow and blood. Having a month focused upon donation awareness and donation also gives donation and transplant organizations more time to sponsor public awareness activities in their communities.