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Honoring His Wife's Memory, Billings Resident Celebrates Donate Life Month

April 16, 2009
Frank Ropp Remembers His Wife and Her Gifts of Life to Others as April Marks Donate Life Month Nationwide

SEATTLE, WA. – (April 16, 2009) – Eight years ago this March, 37-year-old Mary Ropp took her four children to Red Lodge Mountain to ski. She was thrilled to see her youngest, age 5, on skis as she left her with an instructor and headed to put on her own ski boots. Walking out of the locker room, she collapsed from what was later revealed to be an aneurysm. She never regained consciousness and her family chose to carry out her well-known wishes to be a donor on that day. This April and every April, her husband Frank and their four children honor her memory and her selfless gift, as they join thousands of others across the nation to raise awareness of April’s Donate Life Month --calling upon all of us to make the difference that Mary made. Mary was a vibrant and happy mother of children ages 5 to 14. Her husband Frank tended to their ranch, and was calving and feeding livestock when he received the call telling him to meet his family at the hospital. Once he received the news, he knew exactly what Mary would want. Just three months before she died, Mary and Frank had updated their wills and discussed in depth her wish to donate her organs. As Frank says, “Here we were spending hundreds of dollars writing wills at the same time trying to gather up dimes and nickels to buy Christmas presents for the kids. Was it just coincidence or God’s Grace…but, boy, I’m glad we did that.”

In Billings, St. Vincent Healthcare marks this month with special recognition as a prestigious Medal of Honor winner for the fourth year in a row. As designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), this award is given to a small amount of hospitals nationwide, recognizing those who achieve organ donation rates of 75% or higher in a 12 month period. A special ceremony will take place at St. Vincent on Thursday, April 16 at 1:30pm in the Fortin Lobby.

There are more than 100,000 people on the national transplant waiting list, and Montana is doing its part to raise awareness of the need for donation. DONATE LIFE MONTH is a national initiative held each April to heighten organ, eye, and tissue donation awareness and encourage everyone to register their donation wishes.

“I always tell people that for a “ring of kindness” to grow, the wishes of the organ donor has to be known,” says Frank Ropp. “The heart on your driver’s license…will make your wishes known without putting relatives in a position of having to decide for you.” “18 people die each day waiting for transplants,” says Megan Erwin, Vice President representing Donate Life Today. “In our region, over 1,600 people are on the waiting list and, sadly, many of them will not live to see the transplant they need. This April, we hope to turn the tide to get more people to designate their wishes to be organ, eye, and tissue donors.”

There are three ways to be an organ, eye, tissue donor in Montana:

  • Register online at www.DonateLifeToday.com
  • Call toll-free at 1-877-275-5269 and request a brochure to fill out and return.
  • Say ‘yes’ to donation when renewing your driver’s license. Residents who already have a heart on their driver’s license are automatically added to the Donate Life Today Registry.

The Donate Life Today Registry is managed by LifeCenter Northwest -- one of the 58 federally-designated non-profit organ procurement organizations (OPO) in the United States. By educating the community about the need and the importance for people to register their donation wishes, they hope to help the over 100,000 people waiting for a transplant. The Montana Donate Life Today Registry is a confidential database of donation wishes to be carried out at the time of death and accessed only by donation professionals. For more information, or to register your wishes, go to www.DonateLifeToday.com

### DETAILS ON ST. VINCENT HEALTHCARE RECEIVING THE MEDAL OF HONOR

WHAT: ST. VINCENT HEALTHCARE OF BILLINGS RECEIVES THE MEDAL OF HONOR

WHEN: THURSDAY, APRIL 16, 2009 AT 1:30PM

WHERE: ST. VINCENT HEALTHCARE, FORTIN LOBBY

WHY: ST. VINCENT HEALTHCARE IS BEING HONORED FOR ITS COMMITMENT TO ORGAN DONORS, DONOR FAMILIES, AND ITS ACHEIVEMENT OF A 75% OR HIGHER DONATION RATE OVER A 12 MONTH PERIOD. IN 2008, 21 RECIPIENTS LIVES WERE IMPACTED BY THE WORK AT ST. VINCENT.

QUOTE: “ST. VINCENT HEALTHCARE CONTINUES TO EMBRACE AND DEMONSTRATE THE COLLABORATIVE SPIRIT OF DONATION. THEIR BEST PRACTICES HAVE GUIDED THE WORK OF OTHER FACILITIES WITHIN OUR AREA, RESULTING IN SAVING LIVES,” DIANA CLARK, CEO, LIFECENTER NORTHWEST