March 11 is Funeral Director and Mortician Recognition Day, which is an opportunity for the organ and tissue donation community to thank funeral professionals for their commitment, professionalism, compassion, and expertise in serving families who have lost a loved one. It’s also a time to highlight the critical role funeral directors play in saving lives through organ and tissue donation and supporting donor families.
“We appreciate the role that funeral directors play in the organ and tissue donation mission,” said Carrie, Mid-America Transplant Funeral Home Liaison. “Through organ and tissue donation we’re offering families something to hold onto, a way their loved one can help somebody. Our funeral home partners help us serve donor families and support their decisions."
As a licensed funeral director and embalmer, Carrie knows first-hand the importance of honoring a donors’ heroism and working with families to not only celebrate the life of that person – but also their life-saving contribution to the lives of others. Her role involves working with the almost 700 funeral homes in the Mid-America Transplant Service area to provide education on organ and tissue donation, improve processes, and strengthen relationships.
“I’m someone for the Funeral Directors to lean on when needed because I understand the process,” she said. “I can offer a solution for how to make things go more smoothly or to improve communication. Having that perspective is really valuable.”
As a liaison, Carrie helps to shape the collaborative system that allows life to go on after death. And an efficient process is absolutely essential especially when it comes to preserving life-enhancing tissue. When someone passes away and is a donor, their donated tissue must be recovered within 24 hours, which means time is of the essence.
In many cases, funeral professionals play a role in making sure tissue donation is possible. Every time someone passes away and becomes a donor, there’s a funeral director working closely with Mid-America Transplant. Once the donated organs and tissues are transported to those who need them, the funeral directors work with the families to honor their wishes and provide comfort in the families’ time of need.
The funeral professionals also follow through with ways to honor organ and tissue donor heroes on the day of services, including flying Donate Life flags, incorporating donation-specific wording into readings, and displaying the green Donate Life bracelets. It’s a way for them to help donor families acknowledge the life-saving gift of their loved one and to remember that they live on through that legacy.
Funeral professionals make sure all of the appropriate steps are taken seamlessly and with the utmost respect and sensitivity to the families. “No one likes to talk about death or funerals, even though everyone will need a funeral director someday,” said Carrie. “That’s why a day like Funeral Director and Mortician Recognition Day is so important to have.”
“People don’t realize how hard this line of work is,” she added. “Funeral professionals are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Even if it’s a holiday, they’ll leave their own families in order to support yours. You have to be ready at all times to serve other people.”
Without the partnership between Mid-America Transplant and funeral professionals, an opportunity to honor a loved one’s wishes could be lost. “We appreciate everything they do for us,” said Carrie.
By registering as an organ, eye, and tissue donor, you can bring hope to patients and families who are holding out for a miracle. Sign up for the donor registry and increase the chance that patients waiting will get the transplants they need to survive.