Teenagers Janeen Ganahl and Sean Brandriff never met during their brief lifetimes.
But through their deaths, their parents met during a somber ceremony commemorating the installation of a memorial to organ donors at Riverside Community Hospital.
The memorial, a wood and bronze Tree of Life, has 15 bronze and silver leaves, each honoring a donor. Leaves bearing the names of loved ones were placed on the branches of the memorial tree by donor family members.
The private ceremony was co-hosted by OneLegacy, the organ recovery agency for the seven counties in Southern California. Nearly 120 donor family members, nurses and hospital administrators attended.
"Riverside Community Hospital was proud to partner with OneLegacy to host this special ceremony to honor not only the donor, but the families who gave of their loved ones that another may have the gift of life," said Patrick Brilliant, the hospital's president and CEO.
Christy Bethel, OneLegacy coordinator, said 38 lives were saved at the hospital last year through organ donations.
"There are 110,000 people waiting for a life-saving organ, and every 13 minutes another name is added to that list," she said.
Several common misconceptions surround organ donations, she said. The DonateLifeCalifornia website provides accurate information and insights.
Stacy Ganahl told of a conversation she had with her daughter Janeen just before her death 10 years ago.
"Just two weeks before her death, she had been watching the television show 'Touched by an Angel.' She told me she wanted to be an organ donor," Ganahl said.
Ganahl said she was pleased that the hospital had put up a lasting tribute to donors.
"It will live on, and if it can help to get people to recognize what organ donation is, that would be a great thing," she said.
Kim Brandriff said she knew about organ donations because a close family member had been an organ recipient before the death of her son.
She said the Tree of Life is a worthy recognition.
"Heroes get memorials, and these donors are heroes," she said.
Visit one onelegacy.org or donatelifecalifornia.org for more information about organ donation