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Giving the gift of life

The staff of King’s Daughters Medical Center gathered on Monday morning as part of ceremony to honor organ donors and to raise awareness about the need for organ donation. (The Ironton Tribune | Mark Shaffer)

KDMC ceremony honors organ donors, families

ASHLAND, Ky. — On a cold Monday morning, members of the King’s Daughters Medical Center staff gathered outside to honor those who gave the gift of life by donating their organs.

It was part of the commonwealth-wide Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates events to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation. In Kentucky, there are more than 1,000 people in Kentucky awaiting organ donation and across the U.S., more than 100,000 are waiting.

The event began with a talk from the Rev. Scott Hill, who has worked in security and pastoral care at KDMC for the past 25 years.

He said when he thinks of organ donation, he thinks of the staff, the donors and their families

He said the staff is professional and compassionate and caring and that the family of organ donors have noted it many times.

“We think about the patients, I personally think back, and I know that many of you can think back and see their faces,” Hill said. “We think about those patients and the absolute self-sacrifice.

The decision that they made to be an organ donor so that they could be a blessing to other families and other patients is phenomenal. Today, we remember those patients that gave their most personal gift, who did something truly amazing and truly heroic. Today, we honor all the patients, who over the years, have given so much of themselves to help others.”

Hill also praised the families of organ donors.

“They know that their loved one will make a difference in the lives of other people,” he said. “It is phenomenal to see this hopeless situation turn into hope. It is pretty phenomenal that one person can impact eight lives.”

King’s Daughters Medical Center security officer Bill Spears raises a Donate Life flag outside the hospital at 10:08 a.m. Monday at a ceremony to honor organ donors and raise awareness. There was a minute and eight seconds of silence as a Donate Life flag was raised. The time and length of silence signifies that one organ donor can save eight lives. (The Ironton Tribune | Mark Shaffer)

The next speaker was KODA representative Trish Sacconi, who is also a family member of a donor recipient.

She is the partnership relation liaison between KDMC and KODA.

KODA, is an independent, non-profit organ and tissue procurement agency, that works with 112 hospitals to get the organs to be transplanted into people on the organ donation list in 114 counties in Kentucky and two counties in West Virginia. Among the services they offer is valuation of organ/tissue donor suitability, coordination of organ recovery, organ placement, tissue recovery, family support and aftercare hospital staff education and public education.

Sacconi recalls that on one of her first cases she watched as the surgeon held the heart of a young mother and gently laid into a box for transport.

“I will never forget that he held someone’s life in his hand,” she said. “And that will forever impact me.”

Sacconi said as a family member of someone who received a transplant, she represents not only KODA but her family.

“I get to share a journey,” she said. “I represent the 100,008 on that waiting list. I also represent the 20 lives that will pass in the next 24 hours because they couldn’t get that organ they needed to save their life today. Every 10 minutes there is another name added to that waiting list.”

She is also signed up to be an organ donor.

“I want to rewrite the end of someone’s story,” she said. “When we become an organ donor, we can be the world to one person. You can be their happily ever after.”
At exactly 10:08 a.m., Hill called for a minute and eight seconds of silence as a Donate Life flag was raised. The time and length of silence signifies that one organ donor can save eight lives.