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Letter: Grateful for those who save lives

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One’s decision to save lives as their own life ends is one of the most selfless acts a person will ever make.

Last year, hundreds of Indiana residents became organ and tissue donors, giving others a second chance at life. Their gifts provided recipients more time with their family, friends and loved ones, more opportunities to realize their hopes and dreams, and more years to enjoy all that life presents.

I am privileged to lead an organization that not only facilitates these gifts of life, but supports donors, transplant recipients and their families before, during and long after their donation and transplantation experiences. Driven by innovation, we are the only one of 57 organ procurement organizations in the U.S. to now formally honor donors at their funerals and celebrations of life, upon the request of their families, through our new Donor Honor Guard program.

Donor Honor Guard began recognizing donors at their services in 2021 as part of our Funeral Home Partnership program, which unites our organization with funeral home directors throughout the state.

Our advocates — trained volunteers who champion our mission — performed 25 Donor Honor Guard ceremonies this year. Each included reading a tribute provided by the family, a moment of silence, illuminating a Donate Life candle and dedicating roses to immediate family members. Each ceremony ended with a reading of the poem, “My Final Gift.”

It is now time for me to move on

Into the dusk, but also the dawn.

I will remain as the morning comes

As I’ve left behind a gift for someone.

So another may walk, may talk, may see,

Where their life was locked,

I offered a key.

I am a donor to someone in need.

My final gift, my final deed.

          – Author Unknown

Much like Shriner and Masonic ceremonies, our Donor Honor Guard celebrates each donor’s conscious decision to save lives.

I thank our Indiana donor heroes for their gifts of life and I appreciate each family that has welcomed our Donor Honor Guard and allowed us to pay tribute to their loved one. I am also grateful for our partnership with funeral directors throughout the state who have helped us develop and implement this meaningful experience for donor families.

Kellie Tremain

President and CEO

Indiana Donor Network

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