Long Island TRIO’s Donor Recognition Rose Garden Ceremony
Although my wife and I have been members of LITRIO for several years, this was the first time we had been able to go to the Donor Rose Garden Ceremony in Eisenhower Park.
The first thing that struck us was the size of the crowd that was there; I don’t know why, but we had been expecting a rather small gathering; maybe several dozen people.
Instead there was an enthusiastic gathering of over 275 people, including representatives of over 200 donor families. The large tent that had been set up in case of bad weather was overflowing, mostly with the donor families who were our special guests and special heroes for the day and with recipients and their families
There were families from just about every walk of life, ethnic background, race and religion. Donors and their recipients cross many lines, and age or race have nothing to do with it. These are families who have contributed to keeping another human life going. This was a day where recipients and their families could really say thank you.
Long Island TRIO’s president, Mike Sosna welcomed the audience with a warm introduction, while personally thanking donors and the donor families present at the event. Mike Sosna told the audience that recipients involved with TRIO strive to volunteer to give back by volunteering at TRIO events and at donor drives as recipients always keep in mind how important the Gift Of Life and the second chance of life really is.
Mike’s father Jerry Sosna (who donated one of his kidneys to Mike in 1995) was the master of ceremony and introduced each speaker. We heard a number of speakers, including Assemblyman James Conte who is a kidney recipient and very active in the New York State Assembly with issues relating to transplantation.
Two of the most impressive speakers were Gillian Cohen (at 14, a four year recipient of a liver) and Lauren Shields (at 11, a three year heart recipient). These young ladies are shining examples of recipients who will live long and useful lives because of ‘The Gift Of Life’ from strangers and their families.
Speaking to a number of people from donor families, it’s apparent that educating and counseling people prior to the passing of their loved one is extremely important in order to have the families not be asked this very personal question at the moment of their loss. This means more public education about the importance of organ donation. School lectures and use of the DMV must be ramped up and organizations like Long Island TRIO are continuing to be very active in doing these things.
One of the high points of the event was the distribution of roses to each donor family present at the ceremony. This was such an emotional and beautiful part of the event and one could feel the specialness of the moment. This day was indeed a very emotional one for the donors and donor families. You could almost sense the different feelings as they were awarded roses by the two young ladies and Mike Sosna – remembering the loss of their loved one while being aware that their loved one had given the gift of life to another person.
It took years of continuous effort to develop the Rose Garden to where it is today; the same tenacity is needed to obtain the wider acceptance of life-saving organ donation. If this can be done each year, the number of attendees at the Rose Garden Ceremony will continue to grow.