LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--With a common goal of saving lives through organ, eye and tissue donation, the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO), which represents all 58 federally-designated organ recovery agencies in the U.S., signed an agreement with a highly respected, international Buddhist charitable organization, Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, to strengthen the existing relationship between organ procurement organizations and 80 Tzu Chi offices nationwide.
This is the first agreement of its kind in the organ recovery arena between a major international relief group and American organ recovery agencies. The agreement will be formally signed at a press conference on March 24, 2011, at the Tzu Chi Community Clinic in El Monte, Calif., just east of Los Angeles.
Under the agreement, AOPO and its members may provide informational and educational resources on organ, eye and tissue donation education to the Tzu Chi leadership and its community members; help train key leaders and members about donation; and incorporate Tzu Chi in donor registry programs to increase Asian and Buddhist registration rates. Tzu Chi will provide education training to their members – 100,000 in the U.S. alone - to promote donor registration in the United States as well as provide support to donor families in hospitals with culturally appropriate services.
The President of AOPO, Jeffrey Orlowski stated, “The agreement enables Tzu Chi communities to expand their work with their local Organ Procurement Organizations to help comfort and inspire families across the country to give the gift of life knowing that the decision is consistent with their religious and spiritual beliefs. Together AOPO and Tzu Chi can help more families in crisis to save lives and demonstrate compassion through their choice to donate.”
In implementing this agreement, Tzu Chi will increase its efforts to inspire and educate the Asian community nationwide about organ donation. “Organ donation is one of the greatest acts of compassion, the ultimate final act for an individual at the end of one's life,” said Debra Boudreaux, CEO of the Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, quoting the Master Cheng Yen’s teaching. "We only have the right to use our lives, not the right to own them. When one dies, one's body can no longer serve its purpose and is either cremated or buried. Those who agree to donation hope to pass their healthy organs on to others so they may continue to function and support the living. Through organ donation, a body that might have been buried will instead benefit and save many lives. Such acts of giving are enormously worthwhile.”
The agreement is based on a relationship of more than two decades in which Tzu Chi – considered the largest non-governmental agency in the Chinese community – has worked with OneLegacy, the organ and tissue recovery agency serving the seven counties around Los Angeles, to offer community volunteer training and providing charity, medical assistance and grief support to those in need, regardless of race or religion. “The cultural and language support given by the Tzu Chi community to Buddhist and Chinese-speaking families has been invaluable,” said Tom Mone, CEO and executive vice president of OneLegacy.
In its many years of serving Californians, Tzu Chi has helped both organ donor families and recipients. In 2002, 32-year-old Ardy Gau, the eldest child of Charles and Lily Gau of Reseda, Calif., died unexpectedly. During their difficult time of emotional turmoil, the Gaus agreed to donate their son’s organs and saved three lives. Tzu Chi was there to help with emotional and spiritual support.
“As I look back, even though he is gone, the fact that his organs are continuing to help someone else live a good life makes it feel that he is not really gone. Instead, part of him is still alive, still here with me and my family on earth,” said Charles Gau. “From my experience, I want people to know that death does not mean an end to life. Organ donation can help your family establish a legacy of the loved one who is no longer around. What is important is for people to understand what it means to be a donor and how comforting it has been to my family to know that we made a gift of love on his behalf.”
Editor’s Note: A Chinese version of this press release can be obtained by contacting Sabrina Ho at email@example.com.
About Tzu Chi
The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, whose name means "compassion and relief," is an international humanitarian organization with a special consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Founded by Dharma Master Cheng Yen in 1966, the group has nearly 10 million volunteers and supporters in 50 countries and has provided aid in 70 countries. Tzu Chi's work spans the fields of charity, medicine, education, environmental protection and disaster relief. It also established what is now the world's third largest bone marrow donor registry, and promotes humanistic values and community volunteerism. In 1984, Tzu Chi Foundation in the U.S. was established in California as a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Since then, more than 80 offices and facilities have been established with over 120,000 volunteers and supporters working to make a difference in their local communities. For more information about Tzu Chi USA, please visit http://www.us.tzuchi.org.
About the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations AOPO
The Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) is a non-profit, national organization representing the nation’s organ procurement organizations (OPOs). OPOs are federally-designated non-profit organizations that are responsible for coordinating organ and tissue donation across the United States, bridging the gap between the generous donation of organs and tissues and the thousands in need of these gifts. AOPO represents and serves OPOs through advocacy, support and the development of activities that will maximize the availability of organs and tissues and enhance the quality, effectiveness and integrity of the donation process. To learn more about AOPO, please visit www.aopo.org.