Support shawls given to donor families

PARKERSBURG – For the past year families of those who made organ donations have been receiving a handmade shawl through Lifeline of Ohio’s “Shawls of Support” program.

Jenny Hoover, bereavement services coordinator of Lifeline of Ohio, said the program began during the spring of 2012.

“Last year we started giving shawls to families,” she said. “We saw the program elsewhere doing very well and we decided to started it in our community.”

Hoover said the first shawls were given out in September.

“We had such an unbelievable response from the community and the hospitals we work with,” she said. “This year we’ve had more than 400 shawls made by volunteers and it has been a positive experience for all involved.”

Hoover said the shawls were made by members of churches and some staff of Camden Clark Medical Center.

The shawl is provided to the donor family by Lifeline of Ohio staff when they meet in person at the hospital to discuss the donation.

One volunteer donated knitted caps to honor those younger than 2 years of age who gave the gift of life through organ and tissue donation, Hoover said. The cap will be placed on the head of the donor at the conclusion of the recovery and then is given to the donor’s family by the funeral home.

Two hospital staff members received shawls Thursday in a ceremony in the south tower lobby of Camden Clark Medical Center, Memorial Campus.

Sonia Fick, nurse manager of the critical care unit at the memorial campus, received a shawl in honor of her husband’s donation of bone and tissue after a 2011 heart attack. Hoover said a donation like that can touch up to 50 lives.

Fick said the shawl has a lot of meaning.

“It’s very comforting having something to remind me of my husband wrapped around me; it’s like a hug,” she said.

Fick said her husband’s donation brought the family full circle on organ and tissue donation.

“My niece received a liver transplant 10 years before his donation,” she said. “This is coming full circle for us. We made it known in our family that if anything happened to us we wanted to be organ or tissue donors, whatever they could use. Because of the gift she received he wanted to do the same to give back.”

Vicki Rieser, cafeteria manager, also received a shawl after her husband’s death. He died from a heart attack in 2010. She said he was a tissue and eye donor.

“You don’t forget that people still acknowledge it was not a lost cause since he was able to help others,” she said. “It’s like a part of him lives on.”