The Donate Life flag is raised on the flag pole in front of Franciscan Health Michigan City on April 30, 2019.
The Rev. Bill O’Toole blesses the Donate Life flag held by transplant recipients Doris Mitchell, center, and Kathy Lewis before it was raised in front of Franciscan Health Michigan City.
Michael Henderson, professional services coordinator for VisionFirst, holds the Vision Award presented to Franciscan Health Michigan City, with hospital President/CEO Dean Mazzoni, left, and Vice President Operations and Chief Nursing Officer Trish Weber
On the final day of National Donate Life Month, Franciscan Health Michigan City honored organ donors and their families with a remembrance celebration and by raising a Donate Life flag in front of the hospital.
The celebration was held in partnership with Indiana Donor Network and VisionFirst on April 30 in the hospital chapel. The Donate Life flag raising ceremony was followed by a donor registration drive.
“National Donate Life Month is a month to celebrate those who have received transplants, to recognize those who continue to wait, to honor donors and donor families and to thank registered donors for giving hope,” said Michael Henderson, professional services coordinator for VisionFirst. Henderson presented Franciscan Health Michigan City President/CEO Dean Mazzoni with their Vision Award, for the more than 100 patients that have donated their corneas in the past five years.
“Each and every one of you here today has the power to save lives by becoming a registered organ donor,” said Kathy Lewis, who received a kidney transplant in 2007. “You never take it for granted the gift that you receive,” she said. “I honor my donor every day because I’m here because of him.”
Doris Mitchell received liver transplants in 2005 and 2010, her second transplant coming from a 4-year-old girl. “I have chosen to tell my story to give a message about why it is so important to become an organ donor. Through the generosity of organ donation, my life has been spared twice,” Mitchell said, expressing gratitude to the mother who approved the donation of her daughter’s organs. “For the mother of a 4-year-girl to do what she had to do. I can just imagine the strength her mom had.”
Amanda Kuczmanski, hospital liaison for Indiana Donor Network, shared praise for Franciscan Health Michigan City, saying, “the great care that your staff provides for every patient, family, and your support of our life-saving mission helps share hope and healing to those individuals.”
VisionFirst is committed to the restoration of sight through its core values of quality, teamwork, innovation, passion and integrity. Founded in 1959 by the Lions of Indiana, the organization has been recovering, processing, evaluating and providing sight-saving corneas for those in need. VisionFirst provides a full range of transplant services as well as research tissue and training services for medical professionals in the industry. VisionFirst’s highly-skilled, knowledgeable staff works to provide the highest-quality eye tissue to surgeons across the country.
About Indiana Donor Network
Indiana Donor Network, one of 58 designated organ recovery organizations in the U.S., is a vital link between people waiting for life-saving organ transplants and donors. Working closely with Indiana hospitals, donor families and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), their team of skilled, experienced professionals is responsible for overseeing and coordinating organ donation across Indiana. The non-profit organization with more than 100 employees is also committed to educating Hoosiers about the importance of organ and tissue donation.
About Franciscan Alliance
The Franciscan Alliance healthcare ministry began in Lafayette, Ind., in 1875. Today, Franciscan Alliance is one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the Midwest with 12 hospital campuses, approximately 18,000 employees and a number of nationally recognized Centers of Health Care Excellence. Hospitals include: Franciscan Health Carmel; Franciscan Health Crawfordsville; Franciscan Health Crown Point; Franciscan Health Dyer; Franciscan Health Hammond; Franciscan Health Indianapolis; Franciscan Health Lafayette; Franciscan Health Michigan City; Francis-can Health Mooresville; Franciscan Health Munster; Franciscan Health Olympia Fields (IL); and Franciscan Health Rensselaer.