The Giving Tree Pays Tribute to UIHC's Donors and Their Families

Giving Tree
The Giving Tree Pays Tribute to UIHC's Donors and Their Families
General News

The Giving Tree Reception and Ceremony was held the afternoon of December 5th, 2019 in the Atrium Lobby of UIHC.  Paying tribute to UIHC’s organ, eye and tissue donors of 2018, families were gathered together in remembrance of their loved ones during this special season of giving.  Several speakers provided testimonials and shared stories of heartbreak, inspiration and hope in honor of those who have given life, sight, mobility and healing to recipients in Iowa and beyond through organ, eye and tissue donation.

Debby Reed, mother of Erica Mae Reed, held tightly to her daughter’s beloved teddy bear as she talked about Erica’s sweet, forever childlike spirit and her lifelong struggle with uncontrolled seizures that ultimately took their loving daughter from them.  Even in death, Erica changed lives with her decision to be an organ donor.    

Mike Fleming received Erica’s liver and tearfully expressed his gratitude to Erica and her family for his second chance to live, to love his family, and to continuing his teaching career.  Mike shared the remarkable story of his newly acquired taste for sprinkle donuts following his liver transplant in March of 2018—the craving explained after meeting Erica’s family several months later and learning of her love for the same sweet treat!


Esther Baker, ILEB’s executive director, spoke of “gratitude, gifts, generosity, and grace” as key words regarding the altruistic act of donation. 

Working with UIHC Volunteer Services and UIHC Holiday Committee, The Giving Tree was brought to UIHC in 2009 by the Family Services Program of Iowa Lions Eye Bank.  The tree and display has become a welcomed and cherished holiday tradition, viewed daily by thousands of patients, visitors, students and staff at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.  Each year since then, The Giving Tree stands proudly in awareness of organ, eye and tissue donation, honors and exemplifies the generosity of a small sampling of Iowa’s thousands of past donors, pays tribute to all grieving donor families who had the strength and courage to consider donation at such a difficult time, and respectfully acknowledges those who facilitate and support the donation and transplantation process.  This year, almost 100 personalized butterfly ornaments adorn The Giving Tree; each butterfly recognizing a loved one who died at UIHC during 2018 and gave of themselves to others through donation.