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In 1997, the Transplant Awareness Committee asked William Johnson, a London artist, to design a medal that could be given to donor families as well as living donors. The purpose of the medal was to recognize the lifesaving gift of donation. Many transplant programs across the country now present this medal to living donors and donor families at special ceremonies. The donor's name can be engraved on the back of the medal if the family wishes. The medal gives tribute to those who have generously given the gift of life. Transplant patients may spend months, and sometimes years, waiting for this gift of life.
Many donor families feel that the act of donation has helped ease their grief. Nothing can replace the loss of a loved one, although donation often allows family members to feel something positive has resulted from tragedy. The parents of a donor explained it this way: "Our focus now changed from our son who had given the ultimate gift to the people who were waiting to receive the Gift of Life. We lost our son, but five others would benefit. Our lives have changed forever, but our experience with organ donation helped tremendously with our grieving."
Living donors who may have donated a kidney or part of their liver are also honoured. These donors are able to see the enormous benefit of their donation when looking at the recipient - their family member or friend. While the majority of living donors have no long-term effects from the donation, their generous act is not without some risk. These living donors are recognized for their compassion when presented with the medal.