Organ donors remembered at service

Judy Gribble, LifeNet Health ambassador and liver transplant recipient, hangs an ornament on the Tree of Remembrance at Winchester Medical Center in honor of those who have donated an organ. Kaley Toy/Daily
Tammy Barr

WINCHESTER – Winchester Medical Center recognized organ donors and families of organ donors recently during a remembrance service at the hospital’s chapel.

Winchester Medical Center and LifeNet Health sponsored the annual organ donor remembrance service on Friday, before Organ Donor Sabbath, which honors patients who have given the gift of life to others through organ donation this year and in years prior.

Valley Health works closely with LifeNet Health, an agency that coordinates the harvesting and transport organs to transplant centers.

Britta Cruz, senior manager of Hospital Development and Community Education for LifeNet Health, said about 50 people attend this service each year to recognize those who have given or received a transplant.

She said those who attend see a “glimmer of hope out of tragedy” and this is the “beauty of this ceremony.”

Front Royal resident Judy Gribble, a LifeNet Health ambassador, shared her story of receiving a liver transplant on July 13, 2013.

She said she has celebrated birthdays and her 22nd wedding anniversary because someone else’s liver allowed her to live.

She said she survived because somebody gave and “because of you I thank you.”

Tammy Barr, 49, of Winchester, lost her daughter Jessica seven years ago, but said she “lives on” after checking the donor box on her driver’s license form.

Because of her daughter’s good deed, she has saved 71 lives through organ donation, Barr said.

She told others during the service that even though your loved one or friend may be gone, they live on in the life or lives of those they saved.

She said her “heart breaks every day” but puts on her “game face” and faces the world for her daughter.

“Don’t let their memory go,” she added.

Grieve and remember those lost and those saved through organ donation, she said.

Cruz said that she wants people to register at Donate Life Virginia, https://www.donatelifevirginia.org, to donate an organ after death. She said about 50 percent of Virginians are registered.

She said nationwide there has been an increase in donors, but the transplant list grows steadily each year.

“Death and dying is still a very difficult topic,” she said, but the discussion needs to be had with family members.

“Out of the loss several lives can be saved,” she added.

She said that 22 people die every day waiting for an organ.

After the service, ornaments tagged with the names of those who have donated were hung on a holiday tree, the Tree of Remembrance, in the lobby outside the chapel.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com

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