Sharing a Culture of Donation: Dignity Memorial’s Stories of Hope

Donate Life America is excited to share that Dignity Memorial is our first Donate Life Platinum Partner. We are looking forward to growing our collaboration in the care and support of donor families. Dignity Memorial helps create remembrances that reflect the unique values, character, and traditions of the families they serve. As a trusted provider of funeral, cremation, and cemetery services, they care for thousands of families each year – one family at a time.

As experts in celebrating life at Dignity Memorial, we understand the significance of donation and hope to inspire our communities and families to leave behind a lifesaving gift. Our partnership with Donate Life America exemplifies how one selfless act can provide hope and healing to the world.

Service Corporation International (SCI) and our brands, including Dignity Memorial, have long advocated for organ, eye and tissue donation by hosting donor registration drives, Donate Life flag raising ceremonies, and annual 5K events. Many of our Dignity Memorial locations have long-standing relationships with the Donate Life community and continually connect associates to their local Donate Life affiliates. Our funeral home locations strive to promote donor registration and provide support to donor families by honoring their loved one’s gift of life through organ, eye and tissue donation. One of the major ways Dignity Memorial promotes a culture of donation is by sharing stories of hope, including those of our own, like associate Lorena Granados.

In 2005, SCI sales manager Lorena Granados’ sister, Tila, was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. After five years of extended hospital stays, regular treatments and several comas, Tila feared she was losing her health battle and hosted Thanksgiving in July that year in an effort to hold one last family gathering. However, just three months later, in October 2010, Tila received the call that a match had been found, and she was airlifted from her local hospital to receive a liver transplant. Though Tila ultimately lost her battle, this lifesaving donation gave her an additional eight and a half years of life – every moment precious and treasured. While her family mourned her loss, they were grateful for the extra time they received. Tila’s tradition continues, and every year her family hosts Thanksgiving in July to encourage all in attendance to become organ donors. Lorena is aware of the importance of the gift of life and is proud to give back in her role at SCI, working with other staff and donor families.

For the past 13 years, Dignity Memorial has been a sponsor of the Donate Life Rose Parade® Float. The company has honored the lives of 63 remarkable organ, eye and tissue donors through “floragraphs,” portraits made of floral and natural materials placed on the Donate Life float entry in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade. For families who participate in this program, it is an indescribable experience that often provides hope, healing and comfort in their grief journey.

In 2020, funeral apprentice Elise Lathrop participated as a walking donor in the Rose Parade. Ironically, while working as an apprentice at a Dignity Memorial funeral home in New Orleans and attending mortuary school, Elise found the opportunity to spread life amongst the death she faced daily. At the same funeral home, the husband of one of the funeral directors was in need of a kidney. Elise followed her desire to help and gave the gift of life by donating her kidney. They both recovered wonderfully from surgery, and Elise continues to spread the message of compassion and the importance of helping others. 

In 1999, funeral home manager Craig Green was diagnosed with chronic liver failure and was given eight months to live. With the help of great doctors in Savannah and Atlanta, aggressive testing and the guiding assistance of the Life Link Foundation of Georgia, Craig received a lifesaving liver transplant seven months after diagnosis. He has enjoyed nearly 22 healthy years post-transplant, never once experiencing issues with organ rejection. He is often reminded how fortunate he is and is grateful for his second chance at life, carrying his experience and appreciation for donation into his work.

As professionals in the end-of-life space, it is our calling and our purpose to help families in their darkest days. Given our scale and our scope, we are uniquely positioned to provide a seamless continuum of care to the donor families that we serve. It’s our mission to celebrate the significance of life and to honor the lives of organ, eye and tissue donors and the gifts they have given.

As the first Donate Life Platinum Partner, we are able to reach deeper into the communities we serve so that we can honor and celebrate donors like Elise and recipients like Tila and Craig by telling their life stories. We are honored to partner with Donate Life America and their mission to increase the number of donated organs, eyes and tissues available to save and heal lives through transplantation. We hope that as we continue to work together, we can save more lives through donation advocacy and awareness and by honoring the gift of life.