SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Suzie Sturm is the lead ambassador for the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network in the Peoria area. 

“It truly is the gift of life and it’s the gift of hope for us that are out here waiting,” Sturm said.

She’s also a liver transplant recipient.

“My doctors said that they could have, if there was a store full of livers, they could have never picked one that fit so perfectly,” Sturm said.

She got the transplant in 2016. Now, Sturm said she’s living her best life.

“Because of my donor I’ve been able to see two of my daughters get married, welcome more grandchildren, travel, I’m just so grateful every day,” Sturm said.

April marks National Donate Life Month raising awareness about organ and tissue donation.

In honor of that, the Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias is launching a new ad campaign to get more people to register to be donors. 

“Our goal is to help all those who are in desperate need of a life saving organ and we found that the more people know about organ donation, its benefits and the impact that it has on truly saving lives, the more likely they will to become donors,” Giannoulias said.

Some people have to wait years before they can get a transplant. That was the case for Cheryl Weaver, a clinical pharmacist at OSF Hospital in Urbana. She was on a transplant list for a kidney for a little over four years.

“After so many couple of years, I ended up having to be on dialysis because I hadn’t gotten a kidney yet,” Weaver said.

She got the transplant in 2020.

“You’re very nervous, because it’s a big procedure, but you’re very excited too because that means that hopefully now you’ll be off dialysis,” Weaver said.

Weaver said the surgery went well, so did her recovery and she said the procedure gave her a better quality of life. 

“It’s just like having life back again,” Weaver said. “Doing more for your family also, because you’re feeling better. You definitely feel much much better once you get the kidney going and working and everything.”

More than 7.5 million people are registered under the state’s Organ and Tissue Donor registry.

To register to become an organ donor, you can sign up online at LifeGoesOn.com, over the phone at 800-210-2106 or you can sign up at a secretary of state facility.