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Frontpage News 2014 Encouraging organ donation in Lithuania

Heart story
Rimvydas Vekerotas together with his wife and son. Photo: © Gyvastis

Encouraging organ donation in Lithuania

Rimvydas Vekerotas has his own very personal reasons for encouraging Lithuanian youngsters to become organ donors as part of a project supported by the Grants.  Seven years ago, his life was saved by a donor heart.

When Rimvydas learned that he needed a heart transplant because his heart had been badly damaged by an aggressive flu virus, his life was turned upside down.

"I did not know how to break the news to my family. I mean, what do you say? Don‘t worry, but I need a heart transplant to continue to live,” he asks rhetorically

Fortunately for Rimvydas and his family, the doctors managed to find him a heart from a compatible donor, and seven years after the surgery, he is now as healthy as he has ever been.

"I go running with my dog, and I have participated in the European Hearts and Lungs Championships, a sports tournament for people with transplanted organs," he explains.

Volunteering

Another thing that Rimvydas devotes a lot of time to is the organisation Gyvastis. As part of the Lithuanian NGO programme, the organisation has received €34 300 from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to promote volunteerism in Lithuania.  Encouraging young people to become organ donors is an important part of this effort.

"Gyvastis does a really important job when it comes to encouraging people to become donors," Rimvydas says.

And even though he does not know the exact story behind his donor heart, he is convinced that Gyvastis is partly to thank for the fact that he is still alive.

"I live because of its awareness campaign," he says.

"And that is why I must participate myself.

As a Gyvastis volunteer, Rimvydas has visited several schools, educating young people about organ donation.

All countries

Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have set aside almost €147 million for the civil society sector, and NGO programmes are implemented in all the 16 beneficiary countries of the Grants. This makes the Grants one of the prime funding schemes for Central and Eastern Europe. The programmes cover a broad range of issues, such as democracy and human right, environment and sustainable development and social inequality.

Click here to read more about the Grants' support to civil society

Click here to read more about the Lithuanian NGO programme