Southcoast Health Recognizes Donate Life Month with Annual Flag-Raising Ceremony

Community members, providers, nurses and staff gathered at St. Luke’s Hospital this morning for New England Donor Services and Southcoast Health’s annual flag-raising ceremony in recognition of Donate Life Month.

Celebrated every April since 2003, Donate Life Month is a time to recognize the recipients of organ and tissue donation. This month also brings an increase in awareness about becoming a donor and the opportunity to give someone in need of a transplant a second chance at life.

For the second year, Southcoast Health was honored to have the family of Sam Ellis – his mother and Southcoast Employee Cheryl Ellis, his sister Sophia-Lynn Bechard, Derek Bechard and Barbara Sullivan – present at the flag raising to share the story of Sam’s organ donation, after passing away due to a motor vehicle accident three years ago. 

“Donate Life Month is a time to honor and remember those who gave a life-saving donation to someone in need of an organ or tissue transplant – and to inspire others to make the decision to register to donate,” said David O. McCready, President and CEO of Southcoast Health. “On behalf of everyone here at Southcoast Health, I want to express how deeply grateful we are for our community partners, providers, nurses and staff who make this possible. I especially want to thank Sophia-Lynn for sharing her family’s story. This is the single best way to shine a light on the impact and importance of organ donation.”

In 2023, 21 donors across Southcoast Health made 63 organ and 35 tissue transplants possible. So far, in 2024, 6 lifesaving donors have given 16 organ transplants and 16 tissue donations, officials said.

“I’m proud to be part of such a giving and compassionate community that supports the importance of organ donation. I want to express my gratitude to all organ donors and their families for their generosity and courage in making the decision to donate – even in the midst of loss and grief,” said Tonya Johnson, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Southcoast Hospitals Group at the event.

All three Southcoast Health Hospitals, Charlton Memorial, St. Luke’s and Tobey, work in collaboration with New England Donor Services, the area’s local designated organ procurement organization, to provide lifesaving donations to individuals in need of an organ or tissue transplant.

Dr. Charles Strom, Senior Director, Organ Surgical Services at New England Donor Services (NEDS), also spoke at the event, emphasizing the importance of the collaboration between Southcoast Heath and NEDS to help make organ donation possible in the South Coast region.

According to the New England Donor Services, there are currently more than 115,000 men, women and children in the United States waiting for a potentially life-saving transplant. More than 5,000 of these individuals live in the New England region.

Recognizing this cause year-round, Southcoast Heath hospitals fly the New England Donor Services Flag on the last day of each month where an organ donation has occurred to honor the person who gave a second chance at life to others.

You can register to be an organ and tissue donor through the National Donate Life Registry or at the RMV when you renew your license.