The widow of former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Matthew Whalen, whose organs were donated after he died in December, is scheduled to speak at a Donate Life Month event at Medical City Fort Worth of Fort Worth on April 11.
Whalen’s story touched the hearts of millions via an online video that showed him being transported to the operating room for organ donation (see links below). Medical City Fort Worth and LifeGift staff members arranged an impromptu color guard ceremony along the hospital halls to honor the young veteran who helped save lives even in death. His widow, Hannah Gradisar Whalen, plans to participate in the Donate Life Month ceremony to celebrate those who saved lives through the gift of organ donation.
Medical City Fort Worth and LifeGift are hosting the Donate Life Month ceremony at 11 a.m. on Monday, April 11, at Plaza, 900 Eighth Avenue in Fort Worth’s medical district, to encourage people to register as organ, eye and tissue donors.
Also speaking at the event will be Erika Costas, a 42-year-old Fort Worth mother and patient of the Fort Worth Transplant Institute at Medical City Fort Worth. She received a life-saving kidney transplant last year at Medical City Fort Worth from a deceased organ donor. Costas says she is forever thankful for the gift that allowed her to forego dialysis and enjoy a healthier life with her husband and 13-year-old daughter. An estimated 30,000 U.S. patients, like Costas, began new lives in 2015 thanks to organ transplants from both deceased and living donors. About 51 percent of U.S. adults are registered as organ, eye and/or tissue donors, according to data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.
The event will also honor a special group of women who sew quilts to cover patients’ bodies at Medical City Fort Worth as they are transported to the operating room for organ donation. The quilts, which feature a “Give a Life, Save a Life” patch, are later presented to the donor’s family. The quilters are members of All Saints Lutheran Church in Arlington. They got the idea to make the quilts from a fellow church member who is a registered nurse at Medical City Fort Worth. One of the organ donation quilts will be on display at the April 11 ceremony.
A Color Guard detail from NAS Fort Worth JRB is scheduled to lead the raising of the American flag to begin the ceremony. A special flag commemorating organ donation month will also be flown.
Texans can register online to be organ donors at www.donatelifetexas.org. More than 11,000 Texans are currently on the national transplant waiting list.