‘I’m thankful:’ Flag-raising ceremony, moment of silence held honoring organ, tissue and eye donors

Gary Shea

MILWAUKEE -- Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin on Monday, April 1 participated in the statewide Donate Life Wisconsin flag-raising ceremony and moment of silence honoring organ, tissue and eye donors and families.

The flag was one of 50,000 flags raised across America.

"I was totally speechless," said Gary Shea, organ recipient.

The moment Shea found out he was going to get a heart --  is a moment he will never forget.

It's thanks to an organ donor that Shea is alive. He was one of the 2,000 patients still in need of a life-saving transplant.

"Realizing I'm here, and I'm thankful to the donor, of course," said Shea.

The event was held at 10:08 a.m. to highlight the fact that one donor can save eight lives. It was followed by a moment of silence for one minute and 14 seconds to recognize the nearly 114,000 patients waiting for a life-saving transplant. Of those patients, nearly 2,000 are in Wisconsin.

"I think it's a great thing to do. Obviously it can help people," said Shea.

"It just signifies recognition for the donors that keep the transplant process alive," said Mitchell Saltzberg, heart failure transplant program.

Several people touched by an organ donor spoke at the ceremony, encouraging others to be a donor, and potentially save someone's life.

The Donate Life flag was first introduced in 2006.

A similar event took place Monday at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center -- involving the family of Alina Ellis, who died in 2017, and Greg Bucholz, who received Ellis' heart. Below are photos from that event:

PHOTO GALLERY

CLICK HERE to learn more about becoming an organ donor.

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