Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital and LifeGift today dedicated a "Tree of Life" to remember those children who gave the ultimate gift - the gift of life through organ and tissue donation.
"Because the families of these children were able to see beyond their own grief during a tragic and painful time in their lives, others received a second chance at life," said Susie Distefano, CEO of Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. "While these children's lives were cut too short, they leave a lasting legacy and provide hope for the thousands of people waiting for a lifesaving transplant. These children and their families are heroes in every sense of the word."
The memorial resembles a tree, and on each branch hangs a photograph of a pediatric organ donor. This year, 16 child organ donors were honored. Now a permanent fixture in the Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, the "Tree of Life" will serve as a reminder of the lives these children saved. Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital and LifeGift plan to honor additional children each year.
The unveiling of the "Tree of Life" takes place as the transplantation community begins its annual recognition of Donate Life Month, a month-long designation to remind Americans of the importance of registering as organ and tissue donors.
Across the country, more than 110,000 people are waiting on a lifesaving transplant and 11,000 of those are Texans. Every day, 18 people die due to the lack of available organs for transplant and, on average, 138 people are added to the nation's organ transplant waiting list.
"The children honored today gave heroic gifts - saving the lives of perfect strangers. Their lives will leave lasting legacies," said Sam Holtzman, president and CEO of LifeGift. "It is our hope that this memorial will continue to inspire others and serve as a reminder of what one person can do as an organ and tissue donor."
Pictured: Susie Distefano, CEO of Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital, and Sam Holtzman, president and CEO of LifeGift, watch as Rhonda Thompson, clinical director of Pediatric Special Care Services for Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital, unveils the Tree of Life.