Garden of Hope honors organ and tissue donors

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By Lois Miller, RN, BSN, Garden of Hope Project Manager


Nationally, more than 117,000 people are waiting for transplants, and that number rises every day. Those transplants might be the difference between life and death, which is why all organ and tissue donors, whether living or deceased, deserve gratitude.

View of the Garden of HopeA group of Tri-County Health Care employees and interested community members proposed the idea of a memorial garden. A garden represents life and hope and could serve as an inspiration to others to consider organ and tissue donation.

The nonprofit organization LifeSource, which aims to save lives with organ and tissue donation in the Upper Midwest, helped the garden committee spark ideas for this new project. The committee included a heart transplant recipient and two families of organ donors.

Youngbauer Landscaping built the garden on the Wesley Hospital lawn and unveiled the work in progress to the public during Tri-County’s community block party on July 18.

A circle of pavers will surround a weathered stone bench and blooming plants while the organ donation flag flies overhead. One by one, each paver will be engraved with a donor’s name. The peaceful area offers visitors a place to rest, reflect and recognize each donor listed.

The centerpiece of the garden is a poem engraved in granite, written by former Wadena resident and heart transplant recipient Jim Swenson. He penned the poem about six months after receiving his transplant on Sept. 18, 2004.Garden of Hope on the Wesley Lawn

“How else can I put it other than to say I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t received that gift of a heart?” Jim said. “It means everything. It’s a chance for life, and it is almost impossible in words to express gratitude for being given that chance.

“I can tell you from a standpoint of caregivers, while they are waiting for loved ones … I think the garden would be a wonderful place for them to go sit for a while rather than a hospital waiting room.”

You can share in the legacy established by the Garden of Hope by purchasing a paver to honor a donor 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 Hospital entrances or can be obtained from Project Manager Lois Miller at 218-631-7485 or A plaque in the garden will recognize those who have made a financial donation.