Gift of Life roses honor organ, tisue donors and families

Thursday, April 15, 2004

What's significant about the 25 Gift of Life rose bushes planted Monday at the Cape Rose Garden in Capaha Park is they serve as a reminder of organ and tissue donation -- the gifts of life.

This special memorial rose garden has been added to honor organ and tissue donors and their families. "These individuals are our family, friends and neighbors," said Breita Church, Mid-America Transplant donor program specialist. "They are not strangers, they are from our communities."

Mid-America Transplant, located at 121 S. Broadview, has been in the area for about 17 years. It is a family support system specially trained to approach families about donating the organs and tissues of a loved one who has died. Organ donation can only occur when the patient's injury results in brain death.

An upcoming dedication ceremony, "Ribbons and Roses," planned by MTS, will take place at the Cape Rose Garden on June 13, hopefully with roses in bloom. The event will honor organ and tissue donor families and promote awareness of the need for donations. Church is currently reaching out to all donor families and recipients to enter them into the MTS database. Donor families are being asked to submit photos of their loved ones for a special display at the commemorative event.

Rose remindersSpecial attention to roses has become a continuing tradition in the Cape Girardeau County area. Readers may recall the 9,000 rose bushes planted in the Ten-Mile Garden as roadside beautification or the attention received by the city of Cape from Reader's Digest in 1961 in its article highlighting the Cape Rose Garden in Capaha Park and the eight-mile rose-bordered stretch along Cape Rock Road for enhancement to the community.

"One of the most overlooked yet important points of organ donation is the opportunity it gives families to salvage something positive from the tragedy they have to deal with," said Church. "Family members often express that perhaps the only thing that makes sense of the whole situation is the fact that another person may live as a result of their loved one's death."

As of last Friday there are 1,912 individuals in the state of Missouri waiting for organ donations. A single organ donor can save the lives of up to seven people by donating heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, pancreas and intestines, according to MTS.

Transplant numbers

Transplants performed in the state of Missouri in 2003 numbered 495. To date 45 transplants have been performed in 2004.

The "Ribbons and Roses" event is open to the public.

Those interested can call Church at 332-0070 or visit www.mts-stl.org for more information. An organ donor registry will be available at the ceremony for those wishing to participate.

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