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Donate Life: Cunningham recognized for dedication to campaign

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Donate Life: Cunningham recognized for dedication to campaign

Harlingen – She works alongside physicians in the assessment, care and management of stroke patients. She performs concurrent review and chart studies while maintaining databases for trauma patients and supports the quality improvement program to evaluate care for trauma patients. She offers educational presentations to the community on stroke and trauma. On top of these daily responsibilities Ginger Cunningham, Trauma and Stroke Programs Coordinator at Harlingen Medical Center, is educating the community on organ donation and helping secure organs for those in need of an organ transplant in the Rio Grande Valley.

Ginger Cunningham, Trauma and Stroke Programs Coordinator at Harlingen Medical Center"April is National Donate Life and it is especially important, right now, to educate the community at large about the need for organ donation and the significance of being a donor," said Cunningham. "Now is the time for those of us who collaborate with organizations such as the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA) to bring this topic to the forefront and offer people the answers they most want."

It is that commitment to the campaign of raising awareness for organ donation that got Cunningham a prestigious recognition from the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance. Recently she was presented the "Donate Life Award" from TOSA.

"This recognition is bestowed upon people like Ginger, who go above and beyond the call of duty to help facilitate the process of organ donation," said Jesse Lara, TOSA Hospital Donor Services Coordinator, in a written statement to Harlingen Medical Center. "She has embraced the effort to educate and expedite organ donation."

The "Donate Life Award" was presented at a luncheon, hosted by TOSA in Harlingen, and offered Cunningham recognition for her dedication to the campaign.

"Being recognized by TOSA is an absolute honor for me," said Cunningham. "This recognition means a lot, because this affirms my involvement with TOSA, my engagement with the community that my hospital serves, and it has enables me to feel that I am making a difference in our community."

According to Lara, one of the reasons for which Cunningham was recognized this year was for her assistance in obtaining and then arranging for the transport of a "slush machine" to a hospital in the mid-Valley. This assisted with the process of organ recovery – ensuring that a needed person would receive the vital organ being donated.

Organ donation statistics indicate that there are far more people in need of an organ transplant than there are people willing to donate an organ. Organ donors are always in short supply. Furthermore, statistics indicate more people in the U.S. alone are waiting for an organ transplant. And, about 4,000 more are added to the national waiting list every day.

"Organ donations do not only come from the deceased," said Cunningham. "There are plenty of living donors out there."

Organ donation statistics indicate you can actually donate a part, or all, of some of your organs and live a comfortable life afterwards. You may be able to donate a whole kidney, or part of the pancreas, intestine, liver or lung. Your body will compensate for the missing organ or organ part. However, if it is determined that donating an organ, or part of an organ, will put your health at risk in the long or short term, then you will not be accepted as a donor.

An organ recipient's medical insurance, or the transplant program assisting with a transplant, may cover medical testing and other hospital expenses for a donor.

"It is important for people who are considering becoming a living organ donor to understand that the organ donation surgery comes with risks," said Cunningham. "Organ donation is major surgery and so there are risks involved. But, if someone is thinking about donating an organ to their spouse, child, parent, sibling, or a close friend, think of the reward in that. You are literally saving the life of your loved one. Organ donation is a beautiful gift – if you really think about it. It's not for everyone, but it is a remarkable gesture of love."

To learn more about how you can become a registered organ donor and/or participate in National Donate Life Awareness Month, contact the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance at 866-687-0277 or visit

If you would like to invite Cunningham to speak at your place of business on Trauma and/or Stroke, she may be contacted at Harlingen Medical Center's Emergency Room at 956-365-1181.