Death is a painful thing to deal with. It can be hard to handle the loss of someone precious and dear to you, and in your moment of grief there isn’t much you can do to distract your thoughts from the painful memories.
There is, however, something you can do with the gift of life you once had – pass it on to others who need it most.
Organ donation is not something new to many of us. It is common to hear stories of family members sharing kidneys with one another so the other may live.
However, organs like these are easy to give away – the human body can live on with one functioning kidney, or even donate up to 60 percent of the liver (which will then immediately work on regenerating that mass lost).
What happens if the organ in need is something crucial to your continued existence, like the heart or the lungs?
This is where things get harder.
Obviously, you can’t just go up to a dear friend or family member or reach out to strangers to ask them to donate to you a body organ that they absolutely need in order to continue living.
As morbid as it is, you are unfortunately forced to rely on the passing of organ donors and hope that they turn out to be a match.
As you can imagine, with modern healthcare as it is today and the limited number of registered organ donors, this means that patients who require heart transplants and the like are almost always in dire circumstances.
When a potential donor arises, however, it is always a cause for celebration for a long-suffering patient because it means they can finally live unrestricted from machinery that is keeping them alive.
In this hospital in Idaho, its medical staff opt to recognise this great sacrifice and honor in a truly unique way.
There is a very special tradition that is performed at St. Luke’s Meridian Medical Center every time an organ donor is signed off.
As the donor is wheeled down the hallway connecting the intensive care unit and the elevators, hospital staff line up on both sides against the wall, hands clasped and heads bowed as the donor’s loved ones follow behind the wheeled bed.
This is a somber moment for many, a silent demonstration of love and respect for the gift of life this donor is passing on.
Initially started a few years ago by intensive care unit director, Deb Compton, the practice has since spread to many other hospitals in the region.
It was originally done in an effort to recognize the life being saved as a direct result of this organ donation, and to allow the loved ones of an organ donor to feel reassured.
One mother has even described the tradition to her children as their father’s warm welcome into heaven, in acknowledgment of his heroic deed.
Considering just how vital organ donation can be to so many people who are still living on borrowed time, hopefully, practices like these can make the family involved feel much more secure and comforted in their time of loss while encouraging more organ donor registration.