Remembrance Ceremony Features Candlelight Memorial, Recognition of Tissue Donors
by Business Wire
“Reflections of Life, Reflections of Love” is the theme of a remembrance ceremony scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine, TX. The ceremony will honor families whose loved ones gave the gift of life through tissue donation.
Sponsored by RTI Donor Services, the ceremony is an opportunity for families to remember their loved ones who gave the gift of life through donation of tissue — skin, bone, heart valves, veins, corneas, tendons and cartilage — to save and improve the lives of others.
As a part of the program, donor mother Valerie Fourtunia will share her story of the gift of tissue donation. Valerie’s son Mike was 22 years old when he was involved in a fatal car accident and went on to be a tissue donor. Mike, a natural athlete, was a tissue recipient himself, having received donor tissue after tearing his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) while playing basketball.
Mike’s older brother Jeremy, whom he idolized, also passed away in a fatal car accident at the age of 16. Mike was 10 years old at the time. “My two boys, the bright lights of my life, are the only children I was blessed with,” Valerie said. “I feel as if they are together again, but still always with me.”
Valerie said that being a donor was something that she and Mike had talked about after his brother’s passing and both knew it was something they wanted to do.
Through the RTI Donor Services Pathways Program, Valerie received two letters from recipients of Mike’s donation. One recipient had an ACL reconstruction, just as Mike did when he was 15.He said in his letter to Valerie, “Since the tissue transplant, I have been able to go back to many normal activities, and am looking forward to a pain-free future. For this I am very grateful to you and your loved one. My family and I will always remember your act of kindness and generosity.” Another recipient, who needed to have a portion of her spine rebuilt after many years of agonizing pain, wrote to Valerie saying, “Without your son’s gift, I would have eventually been paralyzed."
Donated tissue is used in more than one million surgeries routinely performed each year in the United States. Donated bone can save an injured patient from amputation, and may aid in spinal, musculoskeletal, and fracture repair. Increasing numbers of surgeries use bone dowels, wedges, pastes, and pins as the implants of choice for tissue repair. Tissue is sometimes favored over metals and synthetics — which can weaken and stress adjoining bone — and the body usually adapts to the transplanted bone as if it were the patient’s own.
“We are pleased to honor the memory of so many loved ones who made the selfless decision to give the gift of life,” said Ed Huppman, program director for RTI Donor Services, Texas Division. “We look forward to remembering and recognizing them on this special day.”
RTI Donor Services is a not-for-profit tissue recovery network dedicated to serving donor families and the donation community in perpetuating the circle of life. In addition to offering families the option of tissue donation, RTI Donor Services supports their wishes as a responsible steward of human donated tissue gifts and provides family services, as well as community information and awareness. Learn more about RTI Donor Services on the website www.RTIDonorServices.org.