Indiana Donor Network aims to put a face to each story of donation through the donor hero moment of silence, a social series featuring photos of organ and tissue donors and personal tributes written by their loved ones. Each donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and heal up to 75 lives through tissue donation. Despite these incredible lifesaving efforts, organ procurements organizations such as Indiana Donor Network historically only recognize donors at the hospital where the donation takes place or at a funeral service. Through the innovative nature of this project, Indiana Donor Network can publicly recognize donors as real heroes to a broader audience. Additionally, Indiana Donor Network aims to use this social series to provide extra support to grieving families amid their darkest days and increase community support for one of the greatest gifts a person can give – the gift of life.
For the donor hero moment of silence to have maximum impact, Indiana Donor Network came up with strategies for implementation and reach.
Families first learn of the opportunity for a donor hero moment of silence when speaking with one of Indiana Donor Network’s 17 trained donation and grief experts, known as family advocates. During this time of crisis and grief, the family advocate offers support and education about the opportunity to save lives through donation. Based on this important interaction, the family advocate will also provide the opportunity for a donor hero moment of silence.
The family advocate helps gather the project’s key features: a photo and a personal tribute. This information is then passed on to Indiana Donor Network’s marketing and communications team for design. While all the pieces can come together within hours, extreme care is taken to coordinate the timing of each social post. Posting at a later date protects the confidentiality of the donor hero, donor family and transplant recipients.
While the donor hero moment of silence does not go live in real-time, the finished product mirrors the personal tribute and moment of silence observed in a hospital operating room before organ recovery. The unique aspect of this project is that it takes an operating room ritual and allows family, friends and the broader donation and transplantation community to take part in honoring the donor hero and donor family.
Without any funds to dedicate to the donor hero moment of silence, Indiana Donor Network decided on a digital strategy organically targeting its existing audience of more than 13,0000 followers on Facebook.
Since launching the moment of silence posts in June 2020, Indiana Donor Network has honored 14 donor heroes. Monthly engagement on Facebook has more than doubled. Together, these posts have garnered 300 comments, 105,000 impressions, 4,000 reactions and 800 shares.
Most importantly, donor heroes have received public recognition for their lifesaving gifts outside of a hospital setting. Since the start of the series, families have expressed pride in seeing their loved ones recognized and honored in this way.
Additionally, families and friends of donor heroes are receiving more support than ever before. They feel embraced by the broader donation and transplantation community that understands the magnitude of their loved one’s gift. These families also report they appreciate having a way to honor their donor heroes during a time when hospitals are restricting the number of visitors who can participate in bedside rituals. Furthermore, Indiana Donor Network has heard from medical professionals who are grateful to share in the family’s respect of the donor.
Finally, the donor hero moment of silence has increased community inspiration and awareness for organ donation. The posts have shown diversity among donors through age, ethnicity, race and more, which further proves that anyone can sign up as a donor, regardless of age, background or medical history. The series also shows how organ donation helps turn a negative into a positive for many families who find comfort in the fact that their loved ones live on through their lifesaving gifts.