MTS Dedicates New Donor Memorial Monument and Park
Posted August 28, 2009 in Donor Family News, News Category
Acclaimed St. Louis Sculptor Don Wiegand Creates Donor Memorial Monument
ST. LOUIS, August 2009 — Creating a lasting tribute to organ and tissue donors as well as their families, Mid-America Transplant Services dedicated a new Donor Memorial Monument in the central grounds near its office, 1110 Highlands Plaza Drive East in Saint Louis, Missouri. The dedication ceremony took place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, August 26.
The bronze bas-relief sculpture, crafted by world-renowned sculptor Don F. Wiegand at his studio in west St. Louis County, depicts 12 people raising their hands high while holding lit candles in the air. It is backed by large blocks of stone and marble and is surrounded by a serene pool of water in the center of a tree-lined and grassy central garden located just steps from Mid-America Transplant Service’s main office building.
“The Donor Memorial Monument honors the selfless act of giving life to another through organ and tissue donation,” says Dean F. Kappel, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mid-America Transplant Services. “It is a beautiful tribute to all donor families and their loved ones.”
Mid-America Transplant Services has worked on the development of the Donor Memorial Monument for more than four years. The organization has a comprehensive array of support services for donor families but wanted a place for families and those involved with organ and tissue donation to find solace as well as be able to reflect upon the memories of loved ones and the powerful result of donation. A committee comprising MTS board members, staff and donor families worked with Wiegand to develop the concept for the Donor Memorial Monument.
“The sculpture, reflecting pool and setting in general will help trigger and allow memories and emotions to flow naturally,” say committee members Bob and Mary Vieth, who lost their son, Christopher, in 1990. “The Donor Memorial is very important to us as a donor family because it will tell families like ours that the gift of life is cherished and will never be forgotten.”
Bob Vieth, an infantry veteran of the Vietnam War also notes, “To me the Donor Memorial is very similar to the Vietnam War Memorial. Both Memorials remind us that as a result of someone’s sacrifice and death, others were given the opportunity to live.”
The Donor Memorial Monument is part of a larger overall mission by MTS to enhance the resources and support services for donor families. In spring 2008, MTS moved from multiple buildings in Olivette to a new medical office building in the City of St. Louis. The building is located nearer the major trauma centers and houses offices, education and classroom space, three onsite organ procurement surgery suites and a cardiac catheterization lab. Comprehensive donor family support services as well as educational outreach programs also are coordinated in the facility.
“There are more new programs in the works to further enhance our commitment to donor families, especially through counseling, workshops and bereavement seminars,” says Kappel. “Thanks to their life-giving decisions to donate, almost 500 people last year were able to receive a life-saving organ transplant, and thousands others benefited from tissue donations. We feel privileged to be able to acknowledge their compassionate decision to donate with this opening of the Donor Memorial Monument at Highlands Park.”
“I hope that when people see this sculpture, they will see the depth of giving that is possible through organ and tissue donation,” says Wiegand. “The outstretched hands reaching upward with the candles acknowledge the lives of all those who gave the gift of life to so many.”
More than 400 people, including donor families, transplant recipients, health care professionals and MTS staff members attended the dedication of the Donor Memorial Monument. Those involved in the project were also acknowledged, including Don Wiegand, Balke Brown Associates, HOK Planning Group for architectural design, and BSI Constructors as the general contractor for the project.
Don Wiegand’s body of work includes exhibits in both public and private collections around the world, including pieces created for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, which were presented to both presidents in Oval Office ceremonies at the White House. Among his other works are portraits of Mary Mother of the Church, in the collection of the Vatican; of Ernest Hemingway, exhibited at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston; and of Charles A. Lindbergh, at the landing site of the “Spirit of St. Louis” in Paris. In addition are two portrait sculptures of Christopher Columbus and other pieces, located in Spain. Don also has an exhibit at Busch Stadium in St. Louis— a portrait of August A. Busch Jr., president of Anheuser-Busch from 1946 to 1989. Also, Onboard Burt Rutan’s Space Ship One, the stainless bas-reliefs of Lindbergh and the “Spirit of St. Louis” took flight to become the first official bas-relief sculptures in space.