When we think of the holidays and gift-giving, we tend to think of material items. Let us take a moment to acknowledge those who give a gift that is immeasurably precious – organ donors. Sometimes the donor has passed and a family must decide whether or not their loved one’s organs will be donated. However, organs also come from living donors who make the courageous and selfless decision to donate an organ to someone who may not otherwise live much longer, giving not only life to the recipient, but time that friends and family will cherish with that person.

Michael Russell, an attorney at Fieger Law, has given such a gift. He watched his big brother, Cliff Russell, in a hospital bed, suffering from renal failure. Seeing his brother in such a state, Michael was struck with the desire to help and offered to become a kidney donor.

18 years after the decision was made, both brothers are doing well. Now, Michael, Cliff, and their brother Greg Russell all work to raise awareness about the Minority Organ Tissue and Transplant Education Program, which seeks to decrease the rate of ethnic minority Americans who are in desperate need of organ and tissue transplants.

Within the state of Michigan alone, there are over 3,600 individuals who are waiting for organ transplants, and thousands more who need tissue, bone, and heart valves. Gift of Life Michigan, the state’s organ and tissue donor program, serves as an intermediary between families, medical facilities, and patients who benefit from donations. People commonly think that health conditions, such as diabetes, may mean that they cannot be donors, but this is not the case.

Gary Terreault signed up to be a donor and, upon his death from diabetes and other complications, his eyes and tissues were donated. His decision meant raising the quality of life for others.

If you would like to become a donor, you can sign up at giftoflifemichigan.org or at your local Secretary of State branch.