Wall of Heroes honors organ, tissue and eye donors

WOH 2Mosaic and kiosk unveiled at HCMC August 22

What:             “Wall of Heroes” unveiling at Hennepin County Medical Center When:          Thursday, August 22, 2013, 4-7 p.m.
Where:            2nd Floor, HCMC’s Red Building, 717 S. 7th St. entrance

On Thursday, August 22, from 4-7 p.m. Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) unveils its “Wall of Heroes” to honor those who have given a part of themselves so that someone else could live a healthier life – or in many cases, simply live. The display consists of a specially designed mosaic created for HCMC, along with an interactive kiosk containing names, photographs, and stories of HCMC organ, tissue and eye donors submitted by both donors and their families. The kiosk will also contain informational articles about the importance of organ donation, a direct link to sign up as an organ donor, and an opportunity to support the Wall of Heroes.

The mosaic artwork was funded by the Hennepin Health Foundation and created by local artist Michael J. Sweere, whose inspiration came from the themes of “transformation” and “new life.” A special focus group of family members and former patients who have been touched by organ donation suggested the themes, which are represented in the artwork by a garden with insects, birds and flowers. Last year, the hospital, along with the special family focus group, LifeSource, and the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank began meeting to talk about the project that remembers and honors individuals who were organ, tissue or eye donors – either living or deceased.

Christopher Spears

Christopher Spears

“It was a great experience helping create the Wall of Heroes,” said Tiffany Spears, whose brother, Christopher Spears, was only 18 when he passed away after being severely injured in a car crash in March of 2010. “Working in memory of my brother’s name has become a passion of mine and I enjoy helping in any way I can. I felt very honored to be included in this project.” For both Tiffany and her mom, Luann, working on the Wall of Heroes has given them a way to honor Christopher, and to promote the gift of organ donation that he believed was so important. “Christopher was one who always wanted to help other people in every possible way,” explains Tiffany. “He was very involved in church mission trips across the U.S., helping paint houses and feeding the hungry. It was no surprise to me when I learned he was an organ donor. Even though we lost my brother, his single life has changed many others who shine on with his donation. They get to see another day with their families because of Christopher, and to me there is no greater gift. I am so proud to be his sister.” At HCMC, LifeSource works closely with the hospital and families throughout the donation process to ensure that donor wishes – and the wishes of their families – are respected every step of the way. Every donor is treated with respect and care, and with sincere appreciation for their choice to help others.

Kayla Borgerson

Kayla Borgerson

“Kayla did not like making decisions,” Sue Borgerson said about her daughter, who passed away in 2008 after sustaining injuries from a car crash. “When she passed her driving test she asked me if she should check to box to be a registered organ and tissue donor. I told her that was a personal decision that she needed to make on her own. She thought about it for a minute and said, ‘I am going to check the box. I would like to know that if something ever happened to me that I would be able to help other people.’  We are proud of her decision.” Sue Borgerson was also actively involved in the Wall of Heroes project, and hopes that people reflect on what donation means to recipients and donor families. “I hope when people see this Wall of Heroes they will understand that the legacy lives on long after donation, and our loved ones are honored by all for the choice they made.”

Jenny Grill and her mom,

Jenny Grill and her mom, Virginia Nickerson

Jenny Grill’s experience with donation was so positive that she also volunteered on the Wall of Heroes committee to help spread awareness about organ donation. She hopes that the Wall of Heroes not only honors those who have donated, but also serves as a way to encourage others to donate.  “Through HCMC’s involvement of the paired exchange program I was able to donate a kidney to my mom, even though I was not a match.  Now my daughter, born a year and a half after donation, is able to experience the love and joy of a healthy grandma.” Inspirational stories like these will fill the halls on August 22 from 4-7 p.m., when families, friends, transplant patients, kidney donors and others will honor the precious gifts of organ, eye and tissue donation at the unveiling of the Wall of Heroes – which is expected to draw more than 500 guests, including Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie, whose daughter, Rachel suffered fatal injuries in a car crash in 2000. She was also a registered organ donor. In addition to the excellent input from these families, the Wall of Heroes project could not have been successful without help from the Hennepin Health Foundation, Minnesota Lions Eye Bank, and LifeSource. The Wall of Heroes was created as an extension of the hospital’s care for patients and families and dedication to serving the community. Organ, eye and tissue donation offers grieving families comfort, and the donors who give these gifts are heroes. Nearly 3,000 patients in Minnesota are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant and many more are touched by the healing gifts of tissue and eye donation.  HCMC partners with LifeSource and the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank to facilitate the gifts of organ, eye and tissue donation. Minnesotans can register to be donors by checking the box on their driver’s license or state ID cards or online at www.DonateLifeMN.org. Hennepin County Medical Center is a Level I Adult and Level I Pediatric Trauma Center and public teaching hospital. The centerpiece of Hennepin County’s clinical health services, Hennepin County Medical Center offers a full spectrum of inpatient and outpatient services, including its Transplant Center, which recently marked its 50th year of providing transplant services to patients and their families.

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