JOPLIN, Mo. — This month is normally a time for recognizing families whose loved ones have given the gift of life through organ and tissue donation.

KSN’s Jessica Schaer has more on National Donate Life Month and how local groups are still bringing awareness to the process, despite social distancing.

Roxanna Estes, Freeman ICU Family Care Specialist, said, “This is the worst day of their life. They are distraught, they are heartbroken.”

Freeman Health Nurse and ICU Family Care Specialist Roxanna Estes has been there when families are about to say goodbye to a loved one.

“They are lost. You know, they lost their best friend, or their child, and, you know, we are there to help support them through this process.”

Those families also can hold onto something in the midst of their grief if their loved one is an organ or tissue donor.

“Those families tend to do so much better because they know something good has come out of something so terrible.”

Cathy Lucchi, Midwest Transplant Network Hospital Services Coordinator, said, “For so many families, it really can give them some hope, and something positive in a very tragic situation.”

Lucchi knows just how important organ donation can be for so many people waiting for the right donor.

“There’s still over 110,000 people on the national waiting list, awaiting that life saving gift. And unfortunately, there’s still 20 people dying everyday. So organ donation is still incredible important to continue saving lives.”

But the covid-19 pandemic has created quite a few obstacles this year.

Unfortunately, people who die from covid-19 cannot be donors.

“Transplantation is really a very highly-regulated field. And we thoroughly screen all potential donors, at a regular, every time.”

Plus — April is National Donate Life month — usually packed with activities to bring awareness to organ donation.

There’s normally a celebration of life service to bring together families of hero donors and their recipients.

Instead, Midwest Transplant Network has come up with other unique ways to draw awareness.

“Different stories that we’re highlighting. Heroes and their stories, recipients and their stories. A gentleman on our social media and sharing his story of his heart transplant.”

And this tree of honor can always be found in the Freeman Health System lobby, as a reminder of those who have donated the gift of life.

“We just want those families to know that they’re not forgotten, and we continue to honor their family members as donor heroes,” said Estes

Friday is blue and green day.

You’re encouraged to wear blue or green to help bring awareness to organ donation and all the lives it impacts.