EASTON — University of Maryland Shore Regional Health joined the Living Legacy Foundation in dedicating a rose for the 2020 Donate Life Rose Parade Float to honor the patients and their families who have given the gifts of life and hope as organ, eye or tissue donors.

According to a news release, the rose dedicated by UM Shore Regional Health President and CEO Ken Kozel will accompany several others dedicated by the Living Legacy Foundation as part of the Donate Life Float in the 2020 Tournament of Roses Rose Bowl Parade that will take place on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif.

Rose dedications enable hospitals to express their support and gratitude for those who have given the gift of life and also thank their staff, who make that gift possible by facilitating organ donations, the release states. The float will highlight the power of unity, light and love through organ, eye and tissue donation, and the many lives touched by donation.

UM Shore Regional Health is passionate about saving lives, the release states. Each April, National Donate Life Month, the health care system joins the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland in honoring patients and families who made the gift of life possible for others through eye, organ and tissue donation.

During the past 30 years, UM Shore Regional Health has facilitated 40 organ donations and 133 tissue donations.

Additionally, hospital staff in Cambridge, Chestertown and Easton all honor organ donors and their families through “Walks of Respect” and a local program, Quilts of Honor, which provides special quilts created and donated by local quilting guild Peggy’s Quilters as gifts to families of organ donors.

A moving tribute that a patient’s family may elect, the Walk of Respect is provides honor and gratitude to a donor as he or she is making the final journey in the hospital, the release states. Hospital staff members line up to show their silent respect for a difficult decision as the patient passes by on the way to the operating room.

“It is a very moving reminder of our mission, purpose and calling,” Kozel said. “I am so moved by the power of what I witness during these Walks of Respect — the compassion, care, respect and the shared bonds between the patient, family and staff.”

The Quilts of Honor program began as an idea in fall 2018 and was implemented early this past spring by UM Shore Regional Health senior leadership and Peggy’s Quilters from Centreville. The quilters provided UM Shore Regional Health with 12 quilts to give to organ donor patients and families in 2019.

“Giving and charity is a big part of what quilters do,” said Shirley Seward, a member of Peggy’s Quilters member and family nurse practitioner with UM Shore Medical Group – Primary Care at Easton. “Taking care of others and ‘wrapping around’ someone in need is important to us. When we found out about the Walk of Respect, we jumped at the chance to be a part of this unique tribute through the Quilts of Honor program.”

“We have been touched to see the beautiful work Peggy’s Quilters have done for those patients and families who have chosen to be organ donors at the end of life, helping others to have a second chance at life,” Kozel said. “Peggy’s Quilters has enabled us to provide a very tangible gift in memory and honor of a patient, which helps us share our gratitude and support with the family.”

The Living Legacy Foundation collaborates and facilitates donation and transplantation in area hospitals, provides support to donor families and educates Marylanders about the life-saving power of donation.

“Local donors save local lives,” Kozel said. “In Maryland, there are 3,353 people on the transplant waiting list. A single organ donor can save up to eight people and a single tissue donor may enhance the lives of up to 75 people. Of the 170,000 people we serve in our five-county community, an amazing 92,688 are registered as eye, organ and tissue donors. That’s just incredible.

“At Shore Regional Health, we are committed to patients from birth to death, and also to those who make the renewal of life possible for others,” he said. “We support and stand behind the families and loved ones of these patients who have selflessly donated life so that others may have a second chance at it.”

Now in its 17th year, the Donate Life Rose Parade Float is the centerpiece of a national effort to reach a broad audience with the simple, life-giving message that organ, eye and tissue donation saves and heals lives, the release states.

Nationally, 113,222 people are in need of a life-saving transplant. Register to become an organ, eye or tissue donor by visiting DonateLife.net.

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