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Life and Legacy Celebrations

Each year, Gift of Life Donor Program invites families of organ and tissue donors to attend Life and Legacy Celebrations to honor their lives and their choice to be a donor.

Family members hold a handmade wrap and stand before the "Threads of Love" Memorial Quilt.

Family members hold a handmade wrap and stand before the “Threads of Love” Memorial Quilt.

Each year, Gift of Life Donor Program hosts families of organ and tissue donors at our Life and Legacy Celebrations to pay tribute to their loved ones’ lives and donations. You will be invited the year following the death of your loved one to join us as we pay tribute to donors and remember them through music, photographs and the presentation of the Gift of Life Donor Medal. For additional information on what to expect, take a look at a local news story from a 2019 celebration here.

The medal was established as a remembrance for those who have helped improve the lives of others through donation, and is a keepsake for the family. Symbolically, the picture on the medal illustrates the hand of the donor to the recipient as he or she passes on the gift of life (the heart) and love (the rose). The magnitude of the gift is accentuated by the rays extending from the heart. Families are also presented with a “Wrapped in Hugs” wrap which was created by a volunteer or member of our community as an outward sign of compassion and gratitude. Learn more about the “Wrapped in Hugs” program.

Finally, families are encouraged to bring a quilt square in memory of their loved one to be added to a “Threads of Love” Memorial Quilt.  The Life and Legacy Celebration starts with an opportunity for these families to pin their newly created quilt square on a special piece of fabric.  After the ceremonies, we will collect all of the squares to create our newest panels of the memorial quilt. Find more information about the Memorial Quilts.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you received an invitation to the Life and Legacy Celebrations and have some questions about the event, you are not alone. Please find answers to some frequently asked questions below or contact Family Support Services.


Do I have to pay to attend? No. There is no cost to attend the ceremony or the reception.

How long does the in-person ceremony last? The ceremonies vary somewhat in length, depending on the number of people who attend. The quilt pinning is prior to the formal portion of the ceremony and is open for thirty minutes. The formal ceremony, on average, runs about 60 minutes.

How long does the virtual ceremony last? The virtual ceremony will last about 60 minutes as well.

Who should attend? Family members and close friends of the family or loved one are all welcome to attend the ceremony. Babies and children under the age of ten may have difficulty with the length and content of the ceremony. Each family member should consider how emotionally ready he or she is to take part in the ceremony. It is important to consider what is best for your family.

How many people can I invite? Because the ceremony is an intimate and private event, we recommend that only close family members attend.   Family members and close friends of the family or loved one are all welcome to participate in the virtual ceremony. You can share the link with those who are not in the same household if you desire.

Will my loved one’s recipient(s) be at the ceremony? The transplant recipients at the ceremony are active volunteers who have chosen to participate as a way to say thank you to donor families. Most of the volunteers received their transplants several years ago. You will not be introduced to your loved one’s recipient(s) at the ceremony.

If I don’t attend the ceremony, will I still receive the medal? Yes. When you complete the online registration form and indicate that you cannot attend, there is an option to request to have the medal sent to your home. You must complete the online registration form in order for us to mail you the medal. If you cannot attend the ceremony this year, you can also indicate that you would like to receive an invitation for next year’s ceremony.


What kind of photograph should I send in? It is best to send a clear picture that features your loved one’s face prominently. You can send a favorite picture (it doesn’t need to be the most current). You can also send a photo that has other individuals in it, though you should clearly note who the donor is in the photograph. It is possible that the picture will be cropped to highlight the donor’s face, so the photo may look different during the tribute.  Photographs that are at least 4×6 will work best.

How do I send the photograph? Please upload your photograph with your registration. Or you can email your photograph directly to Gift of Life using the email address: LLCphoto@donors1.org.  Your photograph should be sent in a high resolution format (at least 300 dpi). Otherwise, the photo may appear blurry. Do not send photocopies of pictures or pictures of pictures because they will not show up well for the tribute. In your email, be sure to include your loved one’s name as you would like it to appear in the program and the location of the ceremony you plan to attend.

If you do not have access to email, please contact us to discuss an alternative. Call 800-366-6771 and ask for Family Support Services.

Do I have to contribute a photo? No. Some families decide they are not ready to take part in the photo tribute.

If we choose not to attend, can the photograph still be included in the ceremony? Absolutely. You can submit your photographs as outlined above.

Quilt Pinning

What is the quilt pinning? Each family has the option to create a quilt square in memory of their loved one. There is a dedicated time before the in-person ceremony for families to pin the square on a piece of muslin. The squares will eventually become part of the “Threads of Love” Memorial quilt. For those families attending the virtual cermony, the quilt squares can be mailed to our office.

Is it necessary for me to create a quilt square? No. Some families are not ready to make a quilt square at the time of the ceremony. Squares can be added to the quilt even years after the loved one has donated. Quilt squares are accepted year round.

How do I make a quilt square? Instructions will be included with the invitation but also can be found on our website. Find a helpful instructional video here.

How is the quilt used?  The “Threads of Love” Memorial Quilts are used at community outreach events at schools, houses of worships or hospitals. These beautiful displays tell the story behind donation. When not traveling to different events, the quilts are displayed prominently in our offices in Philadelphia and Hershey, PA.