By the President of the United States of America
On December 1, 1997, 14-year-old Nicole Hadley was killed when a classmate opened fire inside her high school in Paducah, Kentucky. When doctors told Gwen and Chuck Hadley that their daughter had no hope for recovery, her parents remembered that Nicole believed strongly in organ donation, and in the midst of their own intense grief, the Hadleys made the courageous decision to honor Nicole's wishes and donate her organs. This decision helped to save the lives of at least two people and allowed Nicole's spirit of grace and generosity to live on after her death.
Thousands of families have made the same selfless decision and have given the gift of life to someone in need of an organ or tissue transplantation. Today, approximately 55,000 Americans are on the national organ transplant waiting list, hoping for a second chance. Yet, every day, 10 people will die because organs are not available. These tragic deaths are unnecessary. Our country has a large number of people who qualify as organ donors—but many still have not chosen to become donors.
Last year, to help remedy this situation. Vice President Gore, with the Department of Health and Human Services, launched the National Organ and Tissue Donation Initiative to increase awareness of the urgent need for increased donation. We are working to ensure that all Americans know that by completing and carrying a donor card—and by making their families aware of their decision to donate—they may give the gift of life to other Americans or ease their suffering. And families who have lost their loved ones can gain solace in knowing that they have been able to bring life and comfort to others. This week, I encourage all Americans to honor the memory of Nicole Hadley—and the thousands of other generous people who have donated their organs—by learning more about the benefits of becoming an organ and tissue donor and by filling out a donor card.
Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 19 through April 25, 1998, as National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week. I urge all health care professionals, educators, the media, public and private organizations concerned with organ donation and transplantation, the clergy, and all Americans to join me in promoting greater awareness and acceptance of this humanitarian action.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth day of April, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-second.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON