A quilt that truly warms the heart

By LISA BRITTON For the Baker City Herald December 23, 2011 05:28 pm

The ‘Threads of Life’ quilt honors organ donors and recipients.
The ‘Threads of Life’ quilt honors organ donors and recipients.
Each quilt square tells a story — lives saved by organ donation, and lives forever memorialized by giving the gift of life.

This “Threads of Life” quilt is one of 12 circulated in Oregon and Southwest Washington by Donate Life Northwest. It is currently on display at the Baker City DMV office, 3370 10th St.

The squares were designed and submitted either by organ recipients, or the family of organ donors.

This quilt includes a square designed by Sierra Bingham of North Powder, who received a heart transplant on Aug. 3, 2006.

A book accompanying the quilt tells the story of each square, the people who received and the people who gave.

“It’s very touching, especially with Sierra’s square,” said Sarah Lien, CSM of the DMV offices in Baker City, La Grande and Enterprise.

Sierra was diagnosed with a heart condition called idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy.

She was at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in California when, on Aug. 2, 2006, her heart started to fail and doctors recommended she be put on an artificial heart.

But by 1:30 a.m. Aug. 3, her heart had stabilized and her family learned that a donor heart had become available.

She received her new heart at 6:30 a.m.

For her design, “she wanted to make a square that had a heart for her heart transplant, and a green ribbon in recognition of organ donation.”

Her heart came from a 6-year-old boy named Nicholas, and her square honors him: “Thank you Nicholas, Our Hero.”

Her printed story explains: “She also wanted to pay tribute to Nicholas and his family for their decision to donate during an unimaginably difficult situation.”

Lien said she requested this particular quilt, with its local connection.


Becoming an organ donor

According to Donate Life Northwest, 98 percent of people who sign up to be organ donors do so through their motor vehicle department.

“We’re required to ask everyone 15 and older if they want to be an organ donor,” Lien said.

Also, the DMV employees are trained to answer questions and dispel myths about organ donation.

Consider this: one donor can save up to eight lives and restore sight or mobility to another 50 people as an eye and tissue donor.

As of Dec. 1, Oregon has nearly 2.2 million registered organ donors — 70 percent of Oregonians age 18 and older.

However, each day 18 people in the U.S. die awaiting an organ transplant.

The number of men, women and children in the U.S. waiting for an organ transplant is more than 112,000, with 2,700 of those in the Pacific Northwest.

Donate Life Northwest emphasizes these facts:

• Do not rule yourself out due to age or health

• Your medical care will never be compromised because you signed up to be a donor

• All major religions in the U.S. support organ, eye and tissue donation

• Until you are 18, your family must give consent at the time of donation.


How to register

There are three ways to register as an organ donor:

• Code your driver’s license/permit/ID card

• Register at www.donatelifenw.org

• Request a paper form from Donate Life Northwest (800-452-1369)

More information is also available on the website, www.donatelifenw.org.