By the President of the United States of America
Perhaps the most precious legacy that one human being can bestow upon another is the gift of life. The unselfish decision to donate one's organs after death is an act of generosity that can mean the beginning of new life for others. Advanced medical knowledge and techniques have allowed bone marrow transplants to bring hope and healing to children with leukemia; the gift of a new heart, lung, or liver has enabled many terminally ill Americans who would otherwise have died, to live longer, fuller lives. A new kidney has provided improved health, and the donation of a cornea has restored the miracle of sight. Unfortunately, however, many people still wait, and many people still die waiting for a suitable organ to become available.
Today there are more than 34,000 patients on the national transplant waiting list, and a new patient is added to the list every 20 minutes. The gap between the number of patients on the waiting list and the number of donors continues to widen, and many more will needlessly die. The United States has the potential to maintain an adequate supply of donor organs. To fulfill that potential we must increase public awareness of the urgent need for donation. All Americans need to know that by completing a donor card and carrying it, and by discussing with their families their wishes to donate, they may give the blessing of life to other Americans in need of organs for transplantation.
One year ago, on April 14, 1993, a tragic auto accident claimed the life of Nancy Moore Thurmond, the beautiful, gifted, and caring young daughter of Senator Strom Thurmond and his wife, Nancy. Their courageous decision to donate her organs so that others might live was in accordance with Nancy's wishes and, even in death, has enabled the promise of her young life to continue. The Thurmond family, along with others who have made the same magnanimous gesture for their loved ones, can find some measure of comfort in knowing that they have, indeed, bequeathed the gift of life.
The Congress, by Public Law 103-30, has designated the week beginning April 17, 1994, as "Nancy Moore Thurmond National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the week of April 17 through April 23, 1994, as Nancy Moore Thurmond 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, and all Americans to join me in promoting greater and more widespread awareness and acceptance of this humanitarian cause.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and eighteenth.
William J. Clinton
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 2:06 p.m., April 15, 1994]