Organ donors honored with bluff tree

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 2, 2008

NATCHEZ — A tree recently planted on the bluff is a symbol of the renewal of life that is given through organ donation.

And Thursday, those affected by organ donations gathered for the Natchez Tree of Life ceremony.

Nearly 50 attendees showed up to the event that was spearheaded by the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency in 1999.

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James Laird, family care specialist for MORA, said he became involved in the agency when his son received a liver transplant when he was seven months old.

“He’ll be 17 years old later on this year,” Laird said.

He said the liver came from a donor family’s 1-year-old child.

“How do you say thank you?” Laird asked.

Planting a tree is one way.

Also, Laird said it could another step in the grief process, this commemoration.

“I hope today will maybe move you along in that grief process,” he said to the family of donors.

Another purpose of the tree and the ceremony was to improve awareness of the benefits of organ donation, Laird said.

“We’re always looking for ways to educate people in the community,” Laird said.

Oscar Porter, a Natchez resident and recipient of a kidney, said awareness is important.

“When it they give you a kidney, it gives you a new birthday,” Porter said.

Though he was born on March 16, when Porter got his kidney on March 27, 2007, he said he celebrates that day just as much, if not more.

He said had it not been for the new kidney, he’s not sure whether he would still be around to this day.

He is so appreciate and wishes there were more people who are donors, he said.

“Because of the lack of education, we don’t have enough people doing this,” he said.

Kristi Tedder, Natchez resident, said her sister died a year ago, and saved two people’s lives through her organ donations.

“I encourage everyone to become a (donor) as well,” she said. “It helps you deal with the grief process, it really does.”

Tim Trottier, CEO of Natchez Community Hospital, said his hospital is very much aware and supportive of organ donors.

“The dedicated medical professionals at my hospital are 100 percent focused on this,” Trottier said.

Alderman Jake Middleton spoke on behalf of the city.

“It’s a wonderful thing for so many people’s lives to continue on by making donations,” Middleton said. “I’ve decided that I’m going to (become a donor) because I’ve seen so many people helped from tissue and organ donation.”

After songs performed by the Cathedral High School choir, families of donors and recipients tied green ribbons around the young redbud tree.