Ready to raise the flag: Shown are Trish Ebner, UM Shore Regional Health’s liaison to the Living Legacy Foundation (LLF); Jessica Fluharty, director, Critical Care and Emergency Services, UM Shore Medical Center at Easton; and Chris Wright, LLF hospital services coordinator, are shown at the flagpole in front of UM Shore Medical Center at Easton. The LLF flag will fly throughout April to honor those who saved or enhance lives through organ or tissue donation.

University of Maryland Shore Regional Health celebrated April as National Donate Life Month with a virtual flag-raising at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton on April 16. Members of the Donor Council of UM Shore Regional Health met in the front circle to honor the families and donors who chose to give the gift of life to those in need.

Created by Donate Life America in 2003, Donate Life Month is observed annually to honor organ donors and their families’ choice to save lives. During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland worked with hospitals, transplant centers and healthcare partners to ensure organ transplant safety for recipients and the community. In 2020, over 39,000 lives were saved in the United States. Of these, an all-time high of 33,000 lives were saved were from deceased donors.

“Thanks to the generosity of donors and their families, and the dedication of healthcare and transplant professionals, lives were able to be saved through donation and transplantation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chris Wright, hospital services coordinator for The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland and UM Shore Regional Health.

The Donor Council of UM Shore Regional Health and The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland educate the community about organ donation through information sessions about the donation process as well as awareness tables located in the cafeteria for hospital staff.

The education of hospital staff about the organ donation process is vital to encourage organ donation registration. Maryland registered more than 180,000 new organ donors in 2020. While half of all Marylanders are registered organ donors, more people support organ donation than registration records show.

“Educating staff enables education to the public, getting them talking and encouraging organ donation outside of work,” says Trish Ebner, UM Shore Regional Health’s liaison to The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland. “Members of our Shore community who have experienced organ donation from the giving side have expressed a sense of comfort that even in death, their loved one was still helping others.”

To register as an organ donor, visit the Maryland Vehicle Association while obtaining or renewing a driver’s license or state ID or visit The Living Legacy Foundation online at www.thellf.org.