By Jessica Sly, Communications Specialist
On Tuesday, April 3, Tri-County Health Care and more than 60 donor families, transplant recipients, TCHC employees and members of the public gathered for a Donate Life flag raising and Garden of Hope dedication. Even though a thick layer of snow covered the ground, Lois Miller, organ/tissue donation project lead, was confident that it didn’t dampen spirits as donor families, recipients and those touched by organ donation shared their stories.
Garden of Hope
TCHC first unveiled the Garden of Hope, built by Youngbauer Landscaping on the Wesley Hospital lawn, last year during the annual TCHC Block Party on July 18. One by one, engraved pavers in honor of organ donors and recipients will be added to the outside of the garden.
Surrounded by protective trees and a peaceful lawn, the garden encourages people to stop and reflect by providing a large bench and a variety of beautiful plants. Lois hopes that it can give visitors a place to rest and a change of scenery from the clinic waiting rooms.
TCHC’s Donate Life flag also found a home in the new garden. The Kelderman family raised the flag at the ceremony on April 3, and it will fly over the garden throughout the month of April to celebrate the thousands of donors and recipients.
Donors save lives
More than 117,000 people nationwide are currently waiting for organ/tissue transplants, and that number rises every day. In fact, the numbers on the waiting list are much higher than the number of donors and transplants available. One person can donate up to eight lifesaving organs – heart, two kidneys, liver, pancreas, two lungs and intestines – as well as other valuable tissue.
Eva Geiser of Bluffton encourages everyone, whether they’ve been touched by organ donation or not, to register as a donor. She and her husband purchased two Garden of Hope pavers, one for her father, a living donor, and one for her brother-in-law’s family in his memory.
“I thought the garden was a good idea and nice way to honor people who have donated their organs. I think it will bring more awareness [to organ donation],” Eva said. “People should sign up to be organ donors. Why not? I can’t think of a reason not to.”
Steps to becoming a donor
Signing up to be an organ/tissue donor is relatively simple, and yet it has the potential to save lives. Here’s how it works:
- Make the commitment to be a donor.
- Visit donatelife.net/register or register in person at your local DMV. If you are a Minnesota resident, you can also register online when purchasing a hunting or fishing license through the DNR.
- Tell your family of your decision so they can support your wishes.
Share in the legacy
If your family has been touched by organ donation, or if you know someone who has, the Garden of Hope gives you an opportunity to create a memorial by purchasing a paver or by making a donation toward the garden’s preservation. Pavers will be added on an ongoing basis and can be ordered at any time.
Brochures and paver order forms are available at Tri-County Health Care entrances or can be obtained from Lois Miller at 218-631-7485 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A plaque in the garden will recognize those who have made a financial donation.