Honoring the Organ Donor
We had a patient who suffered brain death after cardiac arrest. He had previously signed up to be an organ donor, and so when he was declared brain dead, the organ donation network (called Gift of Hope here in Illinois) came and arranged to have his kidneys donated to two people. His other organs, unfortunately, could not be donated.
Prior to his leaving the ICU to the operating room, we all gathered together to honor him and his gift of life to another person. I was distinctly honored to read a poem, and I then led the group in a prayer for him, his family, and the recipients of his kidneys. Then, everyone in the hospital who was available (including the hospital CEO) lined the hallway from the ICU to the operating room and stood in silent honor of him and his gift. The family was there to witness it all.
Later, I heard that the family really appreciated this gesture of honor. Before this, they felt everything felt “clinical,” like all that mattered was keeping his body alive so the organs can be kept alive. Our honoring him made him human again.
This made me so happy.
I first learned about this “honor walk,” as we call it, during a night shift I was working at a hospital in St. Louis. I immediately replicated it at our hospital. Every hospital should do such a thing.
People who donate their organs are not just “donors.” They are gift-givers, willingly giving what God gave them so that others may live and breathe after them. It is only fitting that we honor them.
Going forward, if I am ever given the opportunity to pray again for a patient who donates her organs, I will read this prayer in the form of a poem:
Lord our God, God of Hope, God of Healing, God of Life:
You gave me this body, and You gave me my soul
That I may walk and breathe and live
Now You have called me back to become whole
And so my body, as a gift, I now give
I tried to live a life that was best
To spread Your Peace and do none harm
And now that I am to be laid to rest
Please, O Lord, embrace me in your Arms
I pray, O Lord, my heart does not fail
So that Your child can live and love
I pray, O Lord, my lungs always sail
So that Your child can breathe from above
I pray, O Lord, my liver runs along
To keep Your child sane and whole
I pray, O Lord, my kidneys sing their song
And let Your child laugh and console
And if, O Lord, I cannot give all You Gave
I pray that You bless whatever was saved
Now please, O Lord, comfort my beloved
Lord, bring them ease from their pain
Please, O Lord, look after my beloved
And shower Your Care like the rain
Also, O Lord, bless the ones who received
The gift I passed from You to they
Give them the grace of stress relieved
And to them Your Peace do I convey
In Your Most Holy Name do I pray, Amen.