MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – On Tuesday, a ceremony was held at WVU Medicine’s Ruby Memorial Hospital to honor organ donors during National Donate Life Month. 

WVU Medicine staff, the Center for Organ Recovery and Education officials and guests raised the Donate Life flag outside of the hospital.   

Ruby Memorial Hospital (WBOY Image)

“The decision to donate life represents the highest form of the spiritual ideals of selflessness and servanthood but also of compassion and generosity and love … often this decision is made in a time of immense grief, during a time when a family is saying ‘goodbye’ and yet in strength, the decision is made to donate life bravely and selflessly. As a result, for another family becomes the lifeline and the gift of more time,” said Allison Anderson, WVU Medicine chaplain.  

WVU Medicine partners with CORE to complete its mission of saving the lives of those who need a transplant and helping donor families heal from the loss of their loved ones. In 2021 WVU Medicine made 119 organ transplants from 51 donors.  

Heather Mudrick shared her story of the loss of her husband, who donated his heart after passing to save another patient’s life at WVU Medicine and how it has impacted her family.  

“I felt like all hope was lost when Mark passed away, but through CORE and through organ donation, we’ve regained that hope, that we’re able to see lives that have been changed through organ donation and that they are able to see their families grow and that they become part of our family, and it’s just an amazing process. And now that we have gone through this and I do have a greater understanding of it, I hope to continue Mark’s legacy and to honor him and to give hope to others,” Mudrick said.  

Dr. George Sokos, Medical Director of Heart Transplant and WVU Medicine Transplant Alliance completed the transplant of Mark’s heart to the other patient. Being originally from West Virginia, Sokos said he came back to the state to provide people a chance closer to home to get lifesaving transplants.  

“I encourage everyone to be a donor. I encourage everyone to tell their family members to be donors because you’re saving lives and you mean a lot to a lot of different people,” Dr. Sokos said.  

WVU Medicine (WBOY Image)

Christie Ryan, Director of Professional Services and Regulatory Affairs for CORE thanked donors for making 2021 the third record-breaking year in a row for their organization but said they will continue to work for individuals still waiting for a second chance at life.  

“Today, as the donate life flag is raised, we send an unmistakable sign of hope to the more than 100,000 people in the United State who continue to wait for that lifesaving transplant … let this flag be a sign of strength, perseverance, healing and hope. Together we are saving and healing lives and together we are proving that we are unstoppable,” Ryan said.  

To further honor organ donors’ staff at Ruby Memorial are encouraged to participate in “Green and Blue Day” on April 22 for National Donate Life Month. 

Register to become an organ donor in West Virginia, here.