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Hospital pays tribute to organ donors

Family members of organ and tissue donors join with CMC-Lincoln staff Wednesday morning to pay tribute to those who gave life-restoring gifts to others, even in death.

Staff Writer
A somber yet joyous ceremony took place Wednesday, as families and staff of CMC-Lincoln paid tribute to those from the Lincoln County area who donated organs and tissues to help others during the past year.
Speaking to the gathering, Pastor Ted Bost of Daniels Lutheran Church, shared that his life had been personally touched by organ donation.
“In 1984, my niece needed a transplant,” Bost said. “At that time, the family had to raise over $100,000 dollars for her surgery. After all that effort, she didn’t make it.”
Tom Aspenwall, a “requestor” for LifeShare of the Carolinas, also addressed the group. Aspenwall is the recipient of a heart transplant.
“Thirty-one years ago, at the age of 21, my heart was damaged by a viral attack,” Aspenwall said. Aspenwall shared that before his transplant in 2007, he was frequently short of breath, nauseated and fatigued.
“If it hadn’t been for my family, I would have rather died,” Aspenwall said. Since receiving the transplant, Aspenwall is “a new man.” He has seen his oldest daughter graduate from college and has walked her down the aisle in her wedding. And, nine months ago, his first grandchild was born. Without the transplant, it is likely that he wouldn’t have experienced any of these events.
As an organ recipient, Aspenwall is well suited to talk with families during their darkest hours to help them understand what donating their loved ones’ organs can do for others. He told of a two-year-old child who saved six other lives through organ donation.
Families who choose to donate their loved ones’ tissues or organs are contacted six weeks after the donation by LifeShare. At that time, they are given the age and sex of each person who received an organ or tissue.
Three months later, they are allowed to write to the recipient’s family through LifeShare as an intermediary. Later on, if both the donor family and recipient family agree, the two parties can physically meet each other.
“It’s purposefully a gradual process to allow time for the donor family to thoroughly grieve,” Aspenwall said.
During Wednesday’s ceremony, nine donors were recognized. As their names were read by CMC-Lincoln Vice President Elaine Haynes, family members placed flowers near stones engraved with their names at the CMC-Lincoln memorial garden, located on the easternmost edge of the hospital campus. The public garden is open for visitation and reflection at all times.
In closing, Pastor Bost thanked the donors and their families. “Remember the donors who made the decision ‘if anything happens.’ Thank you for their courage to give to their loved ones and to those they don’t even know.”
LifeShare is a not-for-profit procurement organization designated by the federal government to serve 37 hospitals in a 23-county area of southwestern North Carolina and York County, South Carolina. The organization is based in Charlotte with a satellite office in Asheville.
For more information about LifeShare and organ/tissue donation, visit www.lifesharecarolinas.org.

Image courtesy of contributed

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