Wall of Heroes honors those who gave the gift of life

"I think it’s a precious gift to be able to give to someone else,” an organ donor’s widow says

Wall of Heroes honors organ donors

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — In a narrow corridor near the front lobby at Willis-Knighton North, scores of people packed every inch, nestled tightly and standing in front of a black sheet on the wall.

Moments later, a mixture of tears and applause echoed through the hallway as the sheet was dropped, revealing the hospital’s new Wall of Heroes, which honors local organ donors.

“The hope that gave the people who received these gifts, the selflessness it took for these families to give life from their loved ones. ... It’s incredible," said Ashley Davis, a Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency official. “There are different ages, people who are in their 60s and 70s, who gave life.”

But as the sheet revealed rows of silver plaques etched with the names of countless organ donors, one Bossier City woman covered her mouth — almost in a sense of disbelief.

“He was a good father, he was an even better grandfather,” Tammy Essex said.

She was talking about her husband, Michael, who died suddenly June 16 — Father’s Day.

“I heard him hit the floor, I grabbed my phone, ran in there and called 911,” Tammy uttered. “As soon as I walked into the kitchen, I knew exactly what was happening.”

Her husband went into cardiac arrest. He died.

“I loved him with all my heart.”

Tammy noted her husband’s desires to donate his organs at the time of his death.

“I didn’t hesitate; that was something that he wanted. I think it’s a precious gift to be able to give to someone else.”

Although the best gift of her life was taken from her after nearly 11 years of marriage, Michael’s legacy and memory lives on forever on a wall at a Willis-Knighton hospital.

Did you know?

► 2,139 people are awaiting a lifesaving organ transplant in Louisiana

► 1 donor potentially can save up to 9 people’s lives

“The gift of organ and tissue donation is an act of quiet heroism,” LOPA’s website says. The organization has a Hero Stories Blog of memories submitted by the heroes’ families. Click here to read their stories.

Organ Donor - Josh's - Honor Walk

An Honor Walk pays respect to a hero who has chosen to be an organ donor. On Wednesday, August 21, Willis-Knighton doctors, nurses, staff and the hero’s family lined the hallway to honor 28-year-old Josh. His Honor Walk, the first in Louisiana according to the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA), occurred as Josh, a registered organ donor, was taken to the operating room at Willis-Knighton Medical Center. As an organ donor, Josh deserved the hero’s respect he was given. Our staff and employees at the John C. McDonald Regional Transplant Center at Willis-Knighton were touched as they paid tribute to him and thanked his family for the life-giving gifts he has provided others. Learn more about organ transplant at WK at www.wkhs.com/transplant.

Posted by Willis-Knighton Health System on Thursday, August 22, 2019

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