Special event honours those who gave the gift of life

News / General
By Meaghan Quinn

Names added to Organ and Tissue Donor Memorial Wall during special ceremony for families

Outside the chapel in the Kidd 2 hallway of the Kingston General Hospital site, there is a special glass wall  that changes a little bit every year. Known as the Organ and Tissue Donor Memorial Wall, it recognizes those who pursued the opportunity to give others the gift of life through organ and or tissue donation.

Twice a year the Critical Care team hosts an intimate event where the friends and families of donors are invited to return to the hospital to place the name of their loved one onto the memorial.

“To have this opportunity to come back and honour our father, thank the doctors and connect with other families who can empathize with our experience is very healing for our family,” said one donor family who participated in the most recent Organ and Tissue Donor Memorial event. “It’s been a difficult process to go through but there are rewards on the other side.”

This year, the event also included  heart transplant recipient Donnie Brinklow, who attended to share his story and the impact that the donation had on him and his family.

A father of eight , Brinklow expressed that saying thank you will never be enough.

“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my donor and every day I wake up incredibly grateful for the gift that was given to me and my family,” says Donnie. “The word ‘thank you’ doesn’t seem big enough for what I’ve received but they’re the only words that I have.”

His daughter Nicole echoed their gratitude towards donors and their families.

“This experience has taught us to be grateful for every day, for our father and for our donor who made a beautiful gift out of their own tragic experience,” says Nicole. “We’re living our lives as best as we can, not only for ourselves and our family but for our donor and donor’s family.”

April is BeADonor month and all Canadians are encouraged to pass on the gift of life by registering to become an organ and tissue donor.

“Oftentimes people think that they have registered to become an organ or tissue donor when they actually haven’t,” says Susan Warr, Organ and Tissue Donation Coordinator with the Trillium Gift of Life Network. “Ensuring your donation status is up-to-date is as simple as entering your health card information on the BeADonor website.”

Through a donation, one organ donor can save eight lives and enhance the lives of 75 others through tissue donation. Currently, more than 1,600 Ontarians are waiting to receive transplants and thousands await tissue transplants.

If you are a friend or family member of an organ and or tissue donor who received care at the Kingston General Hospital site, they are eligible to have their names added to KHSC’s memorial wall. There is no charge for this service.  Families who are interested in having a loved one’s name added to the memorial can contact kghdonormemorial@kingstonhsc.ca