Thanks to a new interactive wall installed at Banner Health's North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, many people will be honored and many lives will be saved through eye, tissue and organ donations. With the help of a local family, the Donate Life organization and Banner Health a new touch screen and art display has been installed at NCMC in hope of encouraging more people to sign up to be donors.
"We are all interconnected in our community. We depend on each other," said Chris Kerrigan of Banner Health. "This wall enables us to show both sides of that impact. How it impacts those who have donated, those who have received and be able to honor the heroes that donated."
Friday morning dozens gathered in the hall of the hospital for the unveiling of the "Organ Donor Honor Wall." The idea first came from the Gillmore family after they were tragically thrust into learning about the donor system.
"We knew very little about organ donation before Dec. 2, 2018," said Travis Gillmore, the father of Connor Gillmore.
In 2018 Connor Gillmore passed away after being in a car accident. While the injuries to his brain were significant, the rest of his vital organs were still considered healthy.
Five of his organs and tissues were donated to four different people, one of them being a teenager named Olivia Eisenhauer. Olivia, who was once a very active and healthy teen volleyball player, was on the heart transplant waitlist.
Olivia experienced a heart attack and was later diagnosed with a condition that unveiled that only half of her heart was working properly.
One night she recalled laying in the hospital waiting for her favorite college sports team to play when the nurses and doctors stepped in. Her parents were away at the time when she learned a heart had been found.
"Yeah. Life turned from there," Eisenhauer said.
Connor's decision to donate directly saved Olivia's life.
"I wasn't going to live more than six more months. And now I get to live my dream. It is insane to me," Eisenhauer said.
Though it took nearly a year to be connected, Olivia and the Gillmores eventually met up. Jennifer Gillmore, Connor's mother, recalled hearing her son's heart beating for the first time since his passing.
"It was beating so fast," Jennifer said. "It was a moment I will never forget."
Since then the Gillmore Family has become a second family to Olivia. They remain in contact. Olivia said she was forever in their debt for the gift their loved one gave her.
"You don't know how much it means until you are on the other side of organ donation," Eisenhauer said. "I wake up every day thinking I am live because of the gracious donation someone else did. It is indescribable."
Often times people do not think about signing up to be a donor unless they are in line to get their driver's license or in the hospital battling illness or injury.
Those with Banner Health said they hoped the new interactive wall would encourage more people to sign up to be a donor. The wall has a QR code built in that allows users to quickly visit a website that can help them sign up to donate life. Those involved said they hope the Organ Donor Honor Wall is just the first of many that will be installed throughout the region.
"Organ donation is not tragedy but can be a beautiful light in the midst of one," Jennifer said.
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