Like many hospitals across the country, Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center participates in Donate Life Month every April. Candi Wiercioch, the director of cardiac and adult critical care services at the Athens Regional Health System, is responsible for helping to organize this ceremony.
Since 2009, the Donate Life America flag-raising ceremony has been a celebration of organ donors.
Donate Life Month encourages communities to bring attention to the importance of “organ, eye and tissue donors,” Wiercioch told The Red & Black.
More than 113,000 people nationwide are on the transplant waiting list with over 5,200 from Georgia alone, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Every 10 minutes, someone gets added to the waiting list and about 20 people die each day on the waiting list, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“We started about five years ago doing a remembrance ceremony in April,” Wiercioch said. “We have a Tree of Life, an actual wood carving, that was made by a UGA student for us.”
The Tree of Life was created by Juan Espinosa, a former student at the University of Georgia.
His brother was an organ donor, Wiercioch said.
Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center partnered with him through UGA’s art department and the tree was incorporated in 2017.
“We have gold leaves that we engrave with each donor name each year, so that’s where we start our ceremony,” Wiercioch said.
There are three parts to its Donate Life Ceremony including the remembrance ceremony beginning at the Tree of Life, continuing at the flagpole, where the hospital raises the Donate Life flag and then the ceremony moves to the Healing Lodge where an azalea tree is planted in honor of organ donors.
Call Pachuta Insurance Today @ 706-769-2262.