Each year, National Donor Sabbath takes place two weekends before Thanksgiving. In 2023, the event will take place during the weekend of November 10-12. This three-day observance brings together people from a range of religious traditions to support the life-giving cause of organ and tissue donation. While each religion has its own traditions and unique beliefs, a common thread that can be found throughout them is an emphasis on kindness and service to others.
After working as a pastor for the last 10 years, Daniel is used to a life of service. But now in his role as a faith-based community engagement coordinator for Mid-America Transplant, Daniel unites people around a new mission. “I think it’s powerful and meaningful when faith communities do things together,” he said. “When we can gather and unify around things that we all agree are important, it speaks to the value and worth of our faith and how our faith impacts how we live.”
Day-to-day Daniel engages with faith communities and organizations to help them understand and to raise awareness about the importance of organ and tissue donation as well as how they can be advocates for it and address any misconceptions. “Whether it’s through presentations or health fairs, I’m out in the community making connections and promoting organ donation,” he said. “We just finished Clergy Appreciation Month in October, so I hand delivered about 50 pastor and clergy appreciation gifts to congregations throughout the greater St. Louis area. It was a chance for me to express appreciation for the work they do and tell them a little bit more about Mid-America Transplant.”
Daniel did not have a previous connection to organ and tissue donation but was inspired by the opportunity to help more people. “As I looked more into the role, I realized how impactful organ and tissue donation is,” he said. “That was a driving force for me. I can still impact people’s lives and even save lives in a slightly different way than maybe I was before.”
Being in the role for only three months was enough time for Daniel to hit the ground running before National Donor Sabbath. During National Donor Sabbath, religious leaders from congregations across the country will highlight the importance of organ and tissue donation, share inspiring stories, and encourage everyone to join the registry of donors. “A really powerful statement can be made by having congregations and communities of faith throughout the United States all choose that weekend to make an emphasis around how important organ and tissue donation is,” he added.
Daniel knows that beyond National Donor Sabbath, the need for increased awareness around organ and tissue donation is always there. As faith communities typically gather every week, it’s an opportunity to always keep the conversation going. “Before I came to Mid-America Transplant, I didn’t know much about organ donation, I had basically zero awareness,” he said. “Faith communities are a wonderful place for that conversation to take place because there’s a schedule to it. If we are not putting the message out there, we’re missing an opportunity for people to be aware of the lives that they can change.”
In addition, Daniel hopes to inspire faith leaders to check in on families who have lost loved ones as the holiday season approaches. “Grieving a loss around times when gathering as a family is the norm can be hard and difficult,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to be reminded that life is a gift.”
Daniel relies on a simple prayer to help remind him and his family of the gift of life: “I have breath, I have clothes, I have food, I am thankful.” He says that as we enter the Thanksgiving season, it’s a time to reflect on all of the things we have to be thankful for. “Every single day that we have a breath, that is a gift we’ve been given. When we pass away and potentially have the opportunity to bless someone else, that is a gift that can bring the miracle of life to a recipient and their family.”
When someone dies, having a spiritual connection or faith can ease the pain of losing a family member or loved one. Knowing that organ, eye, and tissue donation saves the lives of thousands every year can do the same. Take a moment to register today, and let love and healing be your final legacy.