Organ donors honored at remembrance ceremony

Speaker at the UChicago Medicine organ donor remembrance ceremony

On Thursday, April 18, donor families, recipients, representatives and University of Chicago Medicine staff gathered to honor and celebrate organ donors and their families at the Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery.

Among the speakers, which included Chief Nursing Officer Debra Albert MSN, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, and Manager of Spiritual Care Marsha Sumner, lung transplant recipient Virginia “Ginny” Chandler shared words of gratitude for receiving a live-saving lung transplant almost nine years ago.

“I am alive today for three reasons: the grace of God, the generous and loving spirit of my donor, and the expertise of my medical team," said Chandler. "Key in that is the loving spirit of my donor. I would not be here today without her. She made my life possible."

Family members and friends of organ and tissue donors had the opportunity to recognize their loved ones and reflect on their lives through tributes and memorial artwork. Those who made the choice to donate loved ones' organs during a tragic time told the powerful stories of mothers, fathers, sons, granddaughters and friends who all gave the precious gift of life.

Each year, thousands of lives are saved by the generosity of organ donors, both living and deceased. A single organ can save up to eight people.

“I’m so glad to hear that all six recipients of my granddaughter’s organs and tissue are alive and doing well,” said Patsy Holmes, the grandmother of an organ donor.

UChicago Medicine staff led a candlelight processional to conclude the emotional, yet rewarding ceremony. Chandler, who had the opportunity to meet the family of her organ donor, closed her remarks with gratitude for all donors.

“Life is a miracle. Giving life is the greatest act of love. And you, all of you, make this miracle possible through your loving act of donation," she said. "There are not enough words to adequately express our gratitude. With my love and with the love of all transplant recipients, I thank you. We all thank you.”