BANGOR — Recently, Eastern Maine Medical Center charge nurse Brock Trepanier, RN joined staff from throughout the hospital in lining the hallways in silence to pay respect to a patient who had a serious illness from which she would not recover. This special gesture honored a patient who was giving the ultimate gift of life: the gift of organ and tissue donation.

The “honor walk” has become a standard way for staff to show appreciation for patients whose heroic, final act is saving and improving the lives of others.

“It’s hard for these families, because often whatever leads up to donation is tragic,” says Brock. “Families may not know who gets the donated organs and how it affects the lives of others, so this is a way to show gratitude and appreciation right up front.”

Families may choose to participate by sharing a few words about their loved one and joining the care team on the walk to the operating room. Honor walks are held with the permission of patients’ families.

“It’s an emotional moment,” adds Brock. “Families are grateful to have other people there to support them and show respect for the patient and their donation of life.”

In 2019, 24 lives were saved by organ donors who gave the ultimate gift of life at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, and more than 1,000 lives were enhanced through tissue and cornea donation. Transplant teams throughout New England work with New England Donor Services to procure organs from suitable Medical Center patients, then transplant the organs at transplant centers.

Eastern Maine Medical Center recently unveiled a large banner in the lobby that honors those who improved lives through organ and tissue donation. EMMC was recently recognized by New England Donor Services at the platinum level – the highest level awarded – for the third year in a row for its efforts to educate employees and the community and encourage new registrations to the national organ donor registry.

“Honor walks are a compassionate way to recognize the patient’s special gift and support the family,” says Marc Edelman, senior vice president and chief operating officer. “That’s why we recently made the decision to honor requests for this touching tribute.”

To learn more about the honor walks and explore Eastern Maine Medical Center’s special Organ & Tissue Donation Awareness Week, visit northernlighthealth.org/donatelife.