The decision to give life through organ donation is one of great significance and great difficulty. Though the option for donation provides a glimmer of hope amid tragedy, the pain of losing a loved one also lives on within the donor family. By helping donor’s and their families fulfill the decision to give life to others, a sacred responsibility is placed on the organ procurement organization. A duty to honor the generosity and the significant act of providing life for others through organ, eye and tissue donation At LifeCenter Northwest (LCNW), we take that responsibility to heart, and in order to help lessen the pain of loss, we provide donor families with an honor quilt to remember the donor and their incredible gift.
“That goodbye can be an incredibly lonely and sad moment. We hope families are wrapping themselves in a quilt that their loved one has touched and has a handprint or footprint that reminds them that a part of this person will always be with them,” said Val Maury, family support specialist at LifeCenter Northwest.
Since August of 2014, every organ donor family through LifeCenter Northwest has received a quilt to honor their loved one. These quilts serve as a reminder of the selfless act of donation for many. From the designers and the volunteers who prepare them for families to the LCNW support team, hospital staff and of course, the donor families. As the quilt passes through the hands of each, the gravity of its intention is passed along.
The quilt program was inspired by the work of Mary Jo Moore and Brenda Bodeau at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. Moore was moved by Providence’s comfort care program, which provides quilts for patients whom the Hospital can no longer help. The quilts are given to patients and, ultimately, to family members as a keepsake after death. Moore wanted to use this same idea for donor families, in an effort to ‘wrap them in love’. Bodeau is the sister of a donor and after her brother donated his organs to others, Brenda poured her heart into designing and making these quilts that honor organ donors and their families. She says “The quilts are something tangible that the family has of their loved ones final gifts. It is the last thing the donor had over them keeping them warm”. We were inspired by Bodeau’s caring dedication to the families and have since placed the honor quilt program at the heart of our Family Support program.
Each quilt was designed with complete intentionality and allows for personalization in order to remain intimate to the donor family. Space for the donor’s foot print or hand print is incorporated into each quilt, and can also be used to write messages, sign names, draw pictures, or serve as a space for other dedications from friends and family. It is our hope that each quilt provides healing to the families and is a long-standing tribute to the donors.
The quilts remain with the donor as they go from their past life to their new life as a second chance for recipients. After their loved one has passed, families are able to take the quilt home to begin their healing process.