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Md. hospital honors organ donors with memorial

Sunday - 6/3/2012, 7:20pm  ET

A family member places a copper leaf on a special memorial to honor organ donors that was unveiled at the Prince George's Hospital Center Sunday. (WTOP/Thomas Warren)
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Thomas Warren,

WASHINGTON - Fifty two people whose organs were donated after death to help save the lives of others were honored Sunday with a memorial at Prince George's Hospital Center.

Family members placed copper leaves engraved with the lost donors name on the "Legacy of Heroes" sculpture tree that now dons a soft green-colored wall in the Intensive Care Unit.

The memorial honors organ, eye, and tissue donations that were facilitated at the hospital.

It was a special day for John O'Brien, chief operating officer of the hospital.

"It's just great to see the faces of the family members who are here to acknowledge that their loved ones didn't die in vain, and that they are heroes to others," O'Brien says.

James Selby talked about his hero.

Selby was 22 years old when he found himself in the hospital in need of a new heart and kidney in order to live.

"I felt as if I had no hope, and I was going to live the rest of my life like this, or until God called me home," Selby says.

He was close to death when he got a new heart and kidney in 1998. They came from a 17-year-old girl.

"My donor gave me back my life, and for that she will always be my hero," Selby says.

Fourteen years later, Selby says he's as healthy as he's ever been. He has earned two college degrees, is working on his doctorate, and currently works for the Federal Drug Administration.

George and Loretta Banks attended the ceremony to honor their daughter who was 24 years old when she died in a car accident on September 29, 2010.

"It makes us feel good. It's like her death wasn't in vain. A part of her lives on in somebody else, and they can have a life," George Banks says.

More than 2,000 people in the D.C. region remain on a waiting list for a life- saving organ transplant.

James Rogers, fighting back tears, watched as his wife placed the leaf bearing their son Eric's name on the tree.

Rodgers says his son was adamant about about becoming a donor when he first got his driver's license, and they've seen the results of that decision.

"We've spoken to a couple of his recipients, and to see then living is just absolutely phenomenal," James Rogers says.

More than 114, 000 people are currently on the national organ transplant waiting list, and a new name is added to that list every 11 minutes.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)