How to honor donors?

Annually, from Friday to Sunday two weeks before Thanksgiving, National Donor Sabbath is observed. This observance seeks to include places of worship in promoting donation. Faith leaders from many religions, donor families, transplant recipients, and donation and transplantation professionals participate in services to increase awareness about the lifesaving gifts passed to others for donation and transplantation and honor donors who have given the gift of life.

During National Donor Sabbath, Donor Alliance reached out to members of our community connected to donation and transplantation to share how they honor donors. Both recipients and donor family members responded. Below are some of the many ways people honor donors.

Prayer & Candles

Many people find that prayer allows them to continue to feel connected to the donor.

A donor family member states, “13 years ago, [their] family and [them] made the choice to celebrate the life of [their] son everyday through prayer and action.”

Similarly, transplant recipients find ways to connect through their donors following their transplant. A recipient, Scott, tells us that “after receiving [his] transplant, [he] said a prayer every night thanking [his] donor for the lifesaving gift they gave [him]. Another recipient, Doris, explains that “to remind [her] of the donor and his family, [she] purchased a small pewter bell that sits near [her] bathroom sink. Each morning, I ring the bell in honor of the donor, and I pray for the grieving family.”

Not only does prayer allow donor families and recipients to feel connected to the donor, but lighting candles in honor of them as well.

Tony, a heart and kidney recipient, tells us how “in March of 2020 [he] became a dual transplant recipient.” to honor his donor, he “lights two candles every night”. He does this to represent “one for each lifesaving organ.”

This is a common way to honor donors for transplant recipients and donor family members as well. Judy explains how her and her family “never miss a chance to light a candle in church for [her] son and [her] father, this light continues to give [her] hope for the promise of being reunited and a life without end. This is a practice [they] do even on our travels. [They] also light a candle that is with [them] at every holiday gathering and family event reminding [them] of their presence.”

It is known that all major religions support organ, eye and tissue donation, and for many “[their] religion views organ and tissue donation as an act of charity and love,” and “what better way to honor the life of [donors] through continuing that charity and love far past his selfless gift of donating the gift of life to complete strangers.”

Leading a thoughtful life

Many work hard to honor their donor by ensuring they are making the most out of every moment and every day as they are all precious.

One recipient, Scott, explains how he has started volunteering to support others, and believes that “part of the reason [he] does these things is that [he] believe [his] life was saved for a purpose. [He] was given 2 months to live. That was over 11 years ago thanks to [his] donor and their family. [He] hopes to continue making [his] donor family proud”, hoping to meet them one day.

Both the donor family members and recipients told us that they truly believe organ, tissue, and eye donation is one of the humblest gifts one can give. By acknowledging that fact each and every day, the donor can be remembered by the most selfless act they all gave – the gift of life to others.

Tony “[tries] to honor [his] donor each day by leading a good life, showing and sharing gratitude with as many people as possible, and sharing [his] story. [He] hopes to encourage people to register, bring some hope to those waiting on their gift, and to let donor families know how much they are loved, that we grieve their loss, and appreciate them. This year [he] was blessed to make contact with [his] donor’s family. [He] can’t describe how much it means to [him] to know more about [his] donor, and be in regular contact with her family, who are all now part of [his] family.”

Overall, donors can be honored in unique ways depending on your family, your relationship to the donor, and more. There is not one right or wrong way to honor donors. Either through religious practices, or through the way life is lived, any way to honor donors is appreciated and celebrated.

Show your support to all of the members of our community in Colorado who are on the waitlist for a lifesaving organ transplant by signing up as a donor. Signing up is easy! Simply say Yes the next time you get your driver license or state ID, or sign up anytime online at DonateLifeColorado.org