This Is A Way To Say Thank You

Posted August 31, 2012 in News Category
clm2012-190-bw6Pearl Hollan, a three-year-old kidney recipient, gives a rose to a Donor Dad during the Candlelight Memorial Ceremony.

Emily Rodenback is a two-time kidney recipient. Most recently, she received a kidney through a paired, living donation less than three months ago at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Emily doesn’t know her donor. But on Thursday night at the Candlelight Memorial Ceremony, she said “thank you” to donors during a touching and stirring tribute to those who have given the Gift of Life.

“I haven’t met my donor yet, so this is my way of being able to thank him even though we haven’t connected yet,” said Emily, who received her first kidney in 1997 from her mother. “I have many friends who are transplant recipients and have received donations from deceased donors. This is a way for me to honor them too.”

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from the Candlelight Memorial Ceremony

Emily was one of five recipients who gave roses and shared hugs and tears during the ceremony with the Donor Families of about 140 Donors. The recipients – Emery Patterson, Emily Rodenback, Richard Macias, Rory McCue and Pearl Hollan – represented the four transplant centers in St. Louis: Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Saint Louis University Hospital.  These institutions annually partner with Mid-America Transplant Services to host the Candlelight Memorial Ceremony. 

As each Donor name was read, a Donor Family member approached the stage to receive a rose.

clm2012-284-w4dCandles were raised in honor of Donors to conclude the Candlelight Memorial Ceremony.

“I knew it would be emotional, but I didn’t know it would be that emotional,” Emily said. “The reading of the names … to see the Donor Families and see the little ones give roses to them. I know the donors feel the connection to us, and they can see the life in us. I think that’s incredible.”

The ceremony included a poem by kidney recipient Joseph Hines, the singing of “True Colors” by recipient Jared Anderson, and two songs by Andrea Eads, a singer and Donor Family from Nashville, Tennessee.  Andrea performed “By Your Side,” a song about her father who was a donor in December of 2011.     

“The songs were amazing,” said Crissy Patterson, whose five-year-old daughter Emery is a liver recipient from Children’s Hospital. “The first song by Andrea about her dad, how in the world could she get up and sing that? It was awesome. I’m sure everyone was feeling that. And the part in the poem when Joseph said he was going to take care of their loved one … my daughter doesn’t understand that yet. We try to teach her, but to be that powerful to say, ‘I’m going to take care of your loved one, it’s now my responsibility.’ That was incredible too.”

For Amy and Troy Wildhaber, whose son Zac was an organ donor earlier this year, seeing recipients was soothing.  “It wasn’t really an option not to come,” said Amy. “It’s a lot of people that have the same story and understand. And there is comfort in seeing recipients. That’s something we’ve not experienced a lot of.”

Charity Hollan, whose three-year-old daughter Pearl received a kidney about one year ago at Cardinal Glennon, wanted to be involved to help explain how Pearl was saved.

clm2012-264-h99“It’s really hard to explain to a three year old how she got healthy,” said Charity. “Being able to participate in a ceremony like this makes it a tangible event. She knows we’re here to celebrate the fact that someone donated a kidney to her.”

Richard Macias, a kidney recipient from Saint Louis University Hospital, has volunteered at local dialysis centers since receiving his transplant in October. Thanking Donor Families while giving roses was an opportunity to extend his volunteer work. “When you have someone to talk to and guide you through what the process entails, I think it’s very important,” he said. “This is another avenue for me to help others, that’s why I wanted to do this.”

Showing gratitude to donor families was important for Rory McCue, a 2011 double lung recipient from Barnes-Jewish Hospital. “This is a way to say thank you for those who came before me and thank my Donor Family and just be part of all of this energy. Seeing everyone say thank you and in my own way saying thank you was important.”


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