News and Updates

2023 National Tree of Life Ceremony

Celebrating the Greatest Gift this Holiday Season

Join the fourth annual National Tree of Life event

Donate Life America and the United Network for Organ Sharing invite you to join us for a National Tree of Life virtual event to honor the gift of life and remember the generosity of organ, eye and tissue donors and their families. On December 19 at 6:30 pm ET, we will share stories and honor the legacy of donors in each state who gave the gift of life in 2023 and celebrate the thousands of lives they saved. The event will be livestreamed on Donate Life America’s Facebook page.

 As part of this year’s event, you’ll hear from: 

  • Donate Life Youth Ambassador Sabine Balentine promotes organ donation and registration in honor of the heart and lung donor who saved her father, Jeff
  • Heart recipient Dr. Lonnie Thompson has spent the past 50 years climbing the world’s tallest mountains to bring back ancient ice from the glaciers and learn about the climate of the past. Lonnie’s journey, made possible by a donor, is featured in the documentary film Canary
  • Donna Murrell’s daughter, Natasha, gave the gift of a kidney to Ashley Schmitt. Ashley’s family is at the heart of the new film Ordinary Angels, which will be released in February. Ashley had the opportunity to meet Donna, and they shared their connection and journey together.

The virtual event is an opportunity to recognize the lives and gifts of more than 21,000 selfless organ donors – and thousands of cornea and tissue donors – from 2023 and their courageous families while also celebrating the lives of recipients across the country. Each state’s donor numbers will be shared during the event as volunteers with connections to the transplant community hang ornaments on trees that represent the trees of life. 

“We are thankful for donors and their families every day of the year. That feeling is heightened during this season of giving: For organ donation is truly the greatest gift a person can give another,” said UNOS CEO Maureen McBride, Ph.D.  “Our hope is that this ceremony can be a source of solace for families and friends who are grieving the loss of a loved one and for all who may experience a greater sense of loss during the holidays.”

David Fleming, Donate Life America’s president and CEO, said, “We invite everyone across the country whose lives have been touched by donation and transplantation, as well as the dedicated organ donation and transplant professional communities, to join as we honor organ donors and their families and as we celebrate their roles in making our shared lifesaving missions possible.” 

Watch the event on the National Tree of Life Facebook event page:

For more information on how to register to be an organ donor, visit:


About Donate Life America
Donate Life America is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization leading its national partners and Donate Life State Teams to increase the number of donated organs, eyes and tissues available to save and heal lives through transplantation while developing a culture where donation is embraced as a fundamental human responsibility. 

DLA owns, manages and promotes Donate Life, the national logo and brand for the cause of donation; motivates the public to register as organ, eye and tissue donors; provides education about living donation; manages the National Donate Life Registry at; and develops and executes effective multi-media campaigns to promote donation.

About United Network for Organ Sharing 

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is the mission-driven non-profit serving as the nation’s transplant system under contract with the federal government. We lead the network of transplant hospitals, organ procurement organizations, and thousands of volunteers who are dedicated to honoring the gifts of life entrusted to us and to making lifesaving transplants possible for patients in need. Working together, we leverage data and advances in science and technology to continuously strengthen the system, increase the number of organs recovered and the number of transplants performed, and ensure patients across the nation have equitable access to transplant.