An Evening to Remember, Honor and Thank
Posted November 7, 2014 in News Category
Marik Lingo wanted to express her gratitude and appreciation for a second chance at life. At 10 years old, she received the Gift of Life through a heart transplant at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. On Thursday night, the 17-year-old told 900 people “thank you” at MTS’s annual Candlelight Memorial Ceremony. “My goal was to tell everyone how thankful I am, and not just to my donor family, but everyone,” Marik said. “I know how much it means, I know what it meant to my family.”
Marik spoke as part of a beautiful and inspiring ceremony at First Evangelical Free Church to honor organ and tissue donors. The ceremony was highlighted by everyone in attendance raising a candle in honor of organ and tissue donors. “We’ve never had the chance to come to something like this,” Marik said. “It means a lot to see everyone, to see their candles up for how many people have donated. I’ve never really thought about that.”
For more than 20 years, MTS has hosted events like this one for families to gather, remember, and honor organ and tissue donors. Recent ceremonies have been co-hosted by St. Louis’ four transplant centers: Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Saint Louis University Hospital, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center . “I suspect I have attended over 20 such events, and I remain awe struck by the ability of families to think of others in the midst of their worst time. Pausing to reflect and honor donors is very meaningful to all of us at MTS,” said Dean F. Kappel, President and CEO of MTS since 1986.
During the ceremony, a photo tribute acknowledged the donor of each family attending the event. “Seeing the people on the screen, to see who has donated … that’s the most touching,” said Zoé Kienstra, a 14-year-old who received a liver transplant at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in 2012.
Later, each family was invited to come forward to say their loved one’s name and receive a memorial gift from a recipient. “It was amazing, very emotional. I think I cried the whole time,” said Debra Hansen, one of the recipients giving the Ben’s Bells gift to Donor Families. ”I was able to thank donors and their families for what they had done. That feeling is indescribable; it’s so cool. To be close to so many people like that, people you’ve never met, but there’s kind of a connection there, and for them to say they’ll pray for me … it’s just amazing. Those families are awesome.”
Debra is a lung recipient from Lincoln, Nebraska. She recently moved to St. Louis to be closer to Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where she is listed for a second lung transplant.
The program concluded with a beautiful rendition of “Hallelujah” by the MBU Ringers, a hand bell choir from Missouri Baptist University.