Donate Life ceremony in Pascagoula honors memory of SRHS employee

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Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 5:18 PM CDT
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PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - National Donate Life Month is a way to bring attention to the need for organ donations.

Nationwide, 105,000 people are waiting.

In Mississippi, 1,100 are in need.

On Thursday, the National Donate Life ceremony took place at all three campuses at Singing River Health System. It was particularly emotional in Pascagoula because it was in honor of an employee who passed away six months ago.

Hannah Butler Gauthier was a nurse at Singing River’s Pascagoula hospital.

She was only 24 years old when she died in a tragic accident, but thankfully, she was an organ donor.

“It’s been really emotional but very healing for the family and friends to be able to connect with some of the recipients,” said Hannah’s supervisor Rachael Ward. “One of them was a directed donation of a kidney to someone that they knew. So, that’s been very helpful for them also in the healing process.”

Thursday’s ceremony by the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency, which included a flag raising and walk, was in honor of her.

Among those attending was Rachel Payne of Vancleave, who was once told she was too ill to receive a kidney.

She is now not only surviving but also thriving.

“So far, I’ve had another 23 years of my life. That has been time to meet my soul mate, who adopted my son,” she said. “We raised my son together, who got married a few years ago. So, because of my donor, I’ve had this wonderfully full life.”

Sonny Soileau, MORA Hospital development coordinator, urges people to volunteer.

“It’s vitally important that if you’re interested in becoming an organ or tissue donor that you register. Here in Mississippi, it’s legally binding. It’s a decision that you and your family will not have to make at a very, very tough time.”

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