A Gift for A Gift: Women Make Quilts for the Families of Organ Donors

By Heather Hubbs, Reporter

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By Heather Hubbs

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa-- All month long we’ve bringing you stories on organ donation as part of National Donate Life Month. Last year 60 people died here in Iowa, and gave the gift of life through organ donation. Each donor is given a quilt, which is then passed on to their family. The quilts are handmade by a group of women right here in Eastern Iowa.

Block by block, stitch by stitch these these women spend countless hours creating one of a kind works of art.

"Each of us has different talents and we try to use those talents to create what we hope is a nice product for people," said Carol Depaepe, quilt maker.

Carol Depaepe is just one of a handful of women who donates her time, money, and materials to hand make quilts for the Iowa Donor Network. The blankets, each as unique as their donor are laid on the hospital bed before the organs are recovered, then given to the donors family.

"It's an important thing when someone is in a situation where they're losing things that are important to them it's nice to have something as a memory," said Dapaepe.

Elayne Gassett's son in law donated his eyes when he passed away from cancer, at that time there was no such thing as donor quilts.

"It would have been really nice to have had a blanket for my daughter," said Gassett.

So now Elayne spends 12 hours a day in her basement making quilts for others.

"I would give them all away if I could. When someone says, oh I love that it just warms your heart," said Gassett.

But most of these women never hear those words, they never get a thank you. And they're OK with that, in fact they usually like to remain anonymous. To them they are simply doing what they love, and providing something for families to take home when they must leave their loved ones behind.

The donor quilt program is made up entirely of volunteers, many of these women spend a lot of their own money on supplies, if you are interested in making a donation or would like to make quilts for the Iowa Donor Network you can contact Mary Stark at stark1877@msn.com or by phone at 319-377-1877.

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