ORGAN DONATION: North Memorial mural honors 160 heroes - FOX 32 News Chicago

ORGAN DONATION: North Memorial mural honors 160 heroes

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

18 people die each day waiting for a transplant that never comes. That's why, as part of National Donate Life month, everyone is being asked to consider organ donation.

Yet, those who have donated organs become heroes whose legacy lives on through the lives of others, and that's something North Memorial Hospital is celebrating this week.

The words contained inside a collection of letters from the six people who received organs from her late husband are thankful, and they are something Ruth Laumer will keep close to her heart forever.

"My son put it in a nutshell. He said, 'Where dad is going now to heaven, he won't need them.'" She recalled. "So, it just clicked and we went, 'Yes!'"

Curtis Lovegren died at age 51 from a brain aneurysm, but although he and Ruth had been married for more than 30 years, they had never discussed organ donation. Now that a new spring season full of life is under way, Donate Life America is urging all ages, genders and nationalities to hear their call to save a life and sign up to be a donor.

In Minnesota alone, there are more than 3,100 patients waiting for organ, tissue or eye transplants. This week, North Memorial honored some who have already made difficult bedside decisions to help those patients get what they need.

There is a growing wall of heroes at the hospital, which was started last year. The photographs celebrate more than 160 organ donors, young and old, whose faces line the hallway near the hospital's chapel. This week, dozens were added to the wall -- including Shelia Miller's husband, who died last year.

"He was waiting for a transplant. He knew what it was like to be on the other side of that, and he would have wanted that," she reflected.

Thanks to gifts like that, 5-year-old Brady Carlson was able to come say thank you for the two liver transplants he received before his second birthday.

"He's turned into a normal 5-year-old child that is just like any other child," John Carlson remarked. "At one point, we were told to take him home on hospice. Now, he's your normal, very active, sometimes naughty 5-year-old."

With boys like Brady in mind, Laumer said she hopes other families won't wait to talk about organ donation like hers did.

Anyone can become a donor when renewing a driver's license or by logging on to Donate Life Minnesota at http://www.donatelifemidwest.org/mn/.

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