Tri-Cities, Tennessee — On October 21, 2012, families from across the region will gather to celebrate their loved ones ‘Gift of Life’.   Recipients attend the ceremony for the opportunity to thank donor families for their courage, compassion and willingness to donate in the midst of tragedy.   “We honor donor families today because of the important, life-saving role they have had, and because at life’s end, they cared for others”, according to Joy McCray, Public Education Coordinator for Tennessee Donor Service-TriCities Region. “The Thanks for Giving Ceremony honors and memorializes local organ and tissue donors, providing the opportunity for transplant recipients to say ‘thank you’ for their second chance at life,” said McCray.

Angela Yingling, whose father is an organ recipient, from WCYM News 5 will host the special ceremony.  Kay Christian, a recipient and donor mother  along with  Jeff Clements, a heart recipient ,will share their stories and speak on the importance of organ donation; the ultimate Gift of Life.  Families also present a quilt square to become part of a Tri-Cities quilt honoring  local organ and tissue donors, past quilts will be on display.   Donor families are recognized and presented with the Organ Donor Medal of Honor and a Certificate from the Surgeon General to signify the precious gift given.

One of the highlights will be the releasing of biodegradable balloons symbolizing a release of the spirit.  “There will be joy and tears as each balloon, with a heartfelt message from a donor family member, are released outside the Holiday Inn.   The rapid ascent reminds us how fleeting life is, and how precious each day truly is.” states McCray.

At this time over 116,000 Americans: 2,508 Tennesseans and 3,191 Virginians are currently awaiting life-saving organ transplants.   An average of 18 Americans die each day waiting for a transplant due to the critical shortage of organs available for transplant.

By  checking  yes when applying for or renewing a driver’s license or state I.D. card or going on line to or in Virginia to , anyone can be registered to become an organ donor.

Tennessee Donor Services (TDS) is a non-profit, federally regulated service organization providing for the recovery and allocation of organs and tissue. Tennessee Donor Services is committed to saving and improving lives, connecting one life to another through donation and transplantation. We provide hope! We provide life! TDS provides services to 84 counties in Tennessee and 8 counties in southwest Virginia.  Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, TDS operates four offices: Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and the Tri-Cities area.