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The Gift of Life

March 31, 2017 By: Carmela Coyle

Michelle’s word is “Family.”

Ieesha’s is “Dreamer.”

Kenny’s is “Courage.”

Kara’s is “Humanity.”

These are some of the reasons Marylanders have given for supporting organ donation, words that are part of The Living Legacy Foundation’s annual #In1Word campaign. They are words that are both deeply personal and publicly powerful.

The #In1Word campaign takes place during National Donate Life Month in April, when organ donation advocates and organizations, like The Living Legacy Foundation, celebrate those who have saved lives and encourage others to register as organ, eye and tissue donors.

Hospitals are an integral part of the life-saving process of organ donation – both as the sites of transplantation surgeries, but also as the places where donors are identified, so that they can save others’ lives. This is yet another example of the special role hospitals have in their communities – they are the places where medical professionals who are committed to saving lives do so at every opportunity, even after a death.

This isn’t to say that the prospect of organ donation isn’t difficult for many patients and their families. Some believe that registering as a donor means hospitals won’t work as hard to save their lives; others believe their family will have to pay for donation-related medical expenses. These and other myths make it harder for the 3,800 Marylanders now on the state’s donation waiting list to get the life-saving transplantations they need. Debunking them is a big part of National Donate Life Month.

Hospitals can help. The Living Legacy Foundation, which facilitates donation and transplantation in Maryland, has a toolkit of materials for hospitals, including a staff-wide email template, a blog post, a sample press release, fliers, and more to use during National Donate Life Month. These materials make it easy for your hospital to educate and share the life-saving message of donation and transplantation; for more information, email And as National Donate Life Month continues, we’ll keep you posted on new information and resources.

I will never tire of saying that hospitals are the places people turn to at the most meaningful moments in their lives – the birth of their children, the diagnosis of a grave illness, an unexpected grievous injury. People look to hospitals because hospitals offer hope for a long, fulfilling life. Organ donation offers that same hope – a hope for which 3,800 of our neighbors and friends must wait until more people sign up to become organ donors. I encourage you to participate in National Donate Life Month, so that your organization will offer hope, in a different way, to even more Marylanders.