The decision to give the gift of life through organ, eye, and tissue donation is one of great importance, it also presents a time of great difficulty for donor families. Though; organ donation offers a light of hope in the midst of tragedy, the pain of losing a loved one stays with the donor family forever.
At LifeCenter Northwest (LCNW) it is our great responsibility to be good stewards of the gift of life by helping donors and their families with tender care, comfort and support. In addition to grief counseling and bereavement support provided by our staff, every organ donor family receives a handmade memorial quilt at the time of donation.
Our honor quilt program was inspired by comfort care at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, which provides severely ill patients with quilts, and we adopted this idea for our organ donor families, in an effort to ‘wrap them in love’. The quilt is placed on the donor prior to organ recovery and follows the families throughout the process. “Our dedication to donor families rests at the heart of our honor quilt program. We enjoy involving the community who stand by our value of service in giving back to the donors and families, who selflessly give,” said Deena, LCNW staff.
Designed with intention, each quilt offers personalization to reserve intimacy for families. The program entails two unique quilts, one for our adult donors, and the other for pediatric donors. Smaller in size, the pediatric quilts are prepared with “kid print” fabric, bright colors, and includes blank squares for the family to add a personal touch.
Just before donation occurs, our staff arranges ‘memory-making’ activities, such as placing the donor’s hand and footprints on the quilt, writing messages, signing names, drawing pictures, or other personal dedications from friends and family. It is our intention for each quilt to serve as a memento for the donor family, and tribute to the generosity of the donor and their courageous act of giving.
“That goodbye can be an incredibly lonely and sad moment. We hope that wrapping themselves in a quilt that their loved one has touched and the memorable print reminds families that a part of their child will always be with them,” said Val Maury, family support specialist at LCNW.
The honor quilt program embodies our core values, particularly collaboration, as we team with another altruistic community-focused group in making our pediatric quilts. Sew Much Love , also known as Auburn Stake Humanitarian, come together once a week to serve different charitable service projects, such as hygiene kits, food bank donations, and crafts for retirement centers, as well as our pediatric quilts and quilts for Harborview Medical Center.
In 2015 LCNW provided more than 200 honor quilts to donor families, 50 of which came from Sew Much Love. As the quilt passes through each helping hand, the significance of its intention carries along.
“Those of us involved in this liaison with LifeCenter Northwest all have a soft spot in our hearts for the important service and care this organization provides. We feel a great privilege to be part of it in our small way, and really want others to understand LCNW’s mission and how the staff employs compassion when assisting families who face challenging and unexpected, tragic situations with the accompanying difficult choices made by families,” expressed Sarah, volunteer of Auburn Relief Society.
With our staff traveling regularly, we are able to echo the cycle of generosity by collecting toiletries for Sew Much Love to provide for homeless shelters in the Puget Sound area. Aside from supply contributions, we have an open invite for the Sew Much Love volunteers to attend our staff meetings, quilt packing events, and the annual donation celebrations. Our honor quilt program clearly displays admirable efforts between two like-minded entities working together to support families through a challenging time.
Beyond our clinical and altruistic communities, our collaboration speaks to our preservation of values as we carry out our mission of working together to save lives through organ and tissue donation.
If you would like to learn more about our honor quilt program, please contact our Family Service Department at https://www.lcnw.org/families/ or interested about the service of Sew Much Love, visit their blog here: http://sewmuchlovetogive.blogspot.com/.