Monument Health continues Donate Life Month tradition

RAPID CITY, S.D. – In 2021, as many as 169 million people were registered as an organ donor.

During this National Donate Life Month, the Rapid City community was out celebrating its critical importance.

“There’s so many people that are waiting on an organ, that it’s so important. And tissue,” Director of Nursing at Monument Health Stephanie Battell said. “When you think about tissue, it’s your heart valves, it’s bone. There’s so many things that it’s used for. A lot of burn patients use tissue, eyes, cornea transplants. It’s hard to kind of sum up what just one organ donor means because it’s more than just organs, it’s tissue and eye as well.

A Sign For National Donate Life MonthOrgan donors save millions of lives each year, and even something as simple as a tissue donation alone can save as many as 75 people.

Missy Peterson is one of countless people that have seen the benefits of an organ donation, the recipient herself of a double-lung transplant made over 25 years ago.

“I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when I was a year and a half, and I spent a lot of the time in and out of the hospital. It affected my lungs and my digestive system, but more so my lungs,” Peterson said. “They just continuously filled with lots of mucous and I had trouble with getting it out of my lungs, and my lung function deteriorated to the point that I had to use oxygen all the time. Being able to get those lungs and take that first deep breath after I got them was amazing and a miracle.”

After the transplant, Peterson was able to take on new opportunities and challenges she had never been able to before, such as swimming in the Transplant Games of America. As a competitive swimmer, she won around 3o medals.

Her favorite event? The 500 yard Freestyle – a total of 20 laps.

And as people came out to show their support for the amazing contributions made by donors past, present and future at Monument Health’s annual Donate Life Run and Walk, she is grateful every day to her donor that made her life possible.

“I thank my donor every single day for donating her lungs,” Peterson said. “I was so grateful and so honored to be able to carry those lungs on in my body and continue to live the life that I hope she wanted me to live.”

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