When I received my liver transplant in September 2017, I was not told details about the donor. All I knew is this person was younger than me and had done some time in jail, a fact they must disclose before transplant so you are aware the donor may have been in contact with a communicable disease while incarcerated.
Today, that still is all I know.
I wrote to my donor’s family about this time last year and never received a reply. I had hoped to learn more about this person who gave me the ultimate gift, but apparently the family was not ready or willing to talk. It’s a decision I’ve come to respect.
Still, there are many ways to honor someone who has donated his or her organs after death. Writing a letter to the donor’s family is just one way, but there are other means of recognizing a donor’s gift of life.
Donor Memorial Quilts are another way to commemorate the lives of those who have given the gift of life through organ, eye, and tissue donation.
In Michigan, you can have the name of a loved one who was an organ donor placed on a patch that can be added to one of these quilts. To find out more visit www.giftoflifemichigan.org/ donor-families/quilts.
Some hospitals hold a solemn tribute to organ donors just after they have passed. These are called Honor Walks and they are done to pay their respects to an organ donor for giving the gift of life.
Physicians, nurses, support staff and volunteers line the hallway to honor the organ donor as the individual is moved from the intensive care unit to the operating room. It is important to recognize that this isn’t a decision families take lightly. By choosing organ donation, they are saving many lives and should be honored for the gift they are giving.
And what a gift it truly is. A single organ donor may save up to eight people and a single tissue donor may enhance the lives of up to 50 people.
Another testament to those who are organ donors is located at United Network for Organ Sharing. The National Donor Memorial honors America’s organ and tissue donors. Funded through private contributions, the 10,000-squarefoot memorial garden was designed by a volunteer committee of donor family members, living donors and transplant recipients from across the country.
The memorial symbolizes the emotional journey experienced by donor families during the donation process.
No matter how they are honored, whether it’s a letter to a family or a name on a quilt, organ donors and living donors should be recognized. Without my donor I would not be here today and I’m grateful I can lead a full, normal and healthy life.
No greater gift exists than the gift of life. I’m living proof.
Gary Gould is the managing editor for the View Newspapers. Contact him at 810- 452-2650 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.