'Donate Life' flag raising ceremony honors organ donors, local heart transplant recipient

Elizabeth Smith, a Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare patient, had a heart transplant at Mayo Clinic seven months ago. Tuesday morning, a flag-raising ceremony was held at TMH to honor donors and their families and to celebrate successful transplant operations like Smith's. (Photo: Nada Hassanein/Democrat)
A celebration of life for local staff Sgt. Carl Enis, 31, who served as an Air Force pararescueman in the 308th Rescue Squadron.

Last Christmas, Elizabeth "Libby" Smith went to Hallmark and bought a Christmas ornament of two hearts intertwined. Etched into the gold-and-silver ornament is a date: Aug. 25, 2017.

The date inscribed on the ornament marks the day Smith underwent a heart transplant. More than just another decoration to adorn her tree, it honors her organ donor, whom she calls her hero.

At a flag-raising ceremony Tuesday morning at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare to raise awareness about the impact of organ donation, Smith, a TMH patient, shared her story with a crowd of medical professionals and organ donation advocates.

"Every day, I give glory to her," Smith, 63, said about her donor. "I just want the family to know how grateful I am that they gave me the gift of life."

April marks National Donate Life Month. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data shows more than 5,000 candidates statewide awaiting organ transplants as of Monday. The United Network for Organ Sharing estimates that 20 people die each day nationwide awaiting a transplant.

Smith doesn't know who her donor is — many families prefer to keep the donor's identity private. But she hopes her message of gratefulness reaches her donor's family. Continue reading


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