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Celebrating the Gift of Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation

April 5, 2023

Each April, National Donate Life Month, is held as an observance focusing national attention on organ, eye and tissue donation. National Donate Life Month is about the importance of registering your decision to be a donor, honoring donor heroes, and celebrating the lives they saved. It is the generosity of donors and donor families that makes saving lives through transplantation possible.

Today, Anderson Hospital and Mid-America Transplant Services, along with special guests, raised the Donate Life flag to celebrate and honor the gift of organ, eye and tissue donation.  We were honored to have the family of our Donate Life Flag Pole Memorial area present and sharing the story of their son and brother, Anthony Don Cato, for which the memorial honors. 

His story is best told through the pen of his mother, Jan, who wrote the following story back in 2016, and continues to share with others today:

“Anthony Don Cato blessed our lives for 24 years.   Anthony, our dear son, brother, grandson, nephew, friend, passed away on March 26, 2008.  We all miss him very much everyday   He was strong, brave, courageous, creative, fun, and adventuresome and always kept us entertained.   Anthony influenced us all in many ways!  He showed us how to love and filled our lives with joy, excitement and many wonderful memories.    

Those that knew Anthony realized he lived life with a passion!   Whatever he loved, he put his heart and soul into it.   A few examples of those passions were skate boarding, riding motorcycles and a love of animals.   He rescued several dogs, those that society did not accept, he loved and cared for them and then shared them with us;  Bones, from starvation and mistreatment;  Sandy, the 3-legged American Bulldog.  Even the night of his passing, he had rescued a dog.  

When he received his driver’s license at the age of 16, he chose to sign up to be an Organ, Eye, Tissue Donor.  He was not merely checking a box on a form, but making a commitment.   As a family, we shared our decision about donation, knowing one another’s wishes gave us comfort but never imaged we would be impacted by this important decision.  Anthony twin sister, Ashley, was a transplant nurse and he was proud of her work and career choice to help others.  He enjoyed working with and hanging out with his brother, Tyson. 

Anthony’s donation gifts have helped improve the lives of 29 people.   We are proud of him as he has shared unselfishly his gifts to folks he did not know.   Recipients of organs are fully aware of their gifts.  However, many times the gifts of tissue/bone needed to make repairs, a cornea for transplantation, or heart valve for replacement are not recognized by the recipients.  We are hopeful that through education and communication of these types of gifts to the recipients, they will make a commitment to the Donate Life program.   We trust that Anthony’s influence and story will reach so they may consider donation. 

Anthony passed through the doors at Anderson Hospital and they helped him honor his commitment to Donate Life.   Our family greatly appreciates the support and honoring of Anthony by all Anderson personnel.   We are especially gratefully for the vision of this memorial and all efforts to bring it to fruition by Jean Day, past Director of Emergency Services.   She worked tirelessly with her team and was truly committed to this memorial and the Donate Life program.

As Anthony’s family, friends and the medical community, we all continue to carry Anthony’s influence on as we share his story.

These influences are Anthony’s Power of One:

  1. Anthony’s personal commitment to donation and the influence he had on others during his lifetime.
  2. Anthony’s generous gifts to help others and his influence on them to Pay It Forward and sign up for Donate Life.
  3. Anthony’s influence through the sharing of his story by family and friends to consider supporting Donate Life.

We never know how we can help one another.   Donate Life is an excellent way to do so and we encourage a discussion with your loved ones on your wishes.    

We all have the Power of One…..the choice to help others by committing to the Donate Life Program.”   

For more information on the Donate Life Program, this link to MidAmerica Transplant Services is an excellent source of additional information:


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