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Tattoos for life, hope and remembrance

Tattoo on Joan Smith's arm of a heart with a tree growing out of it

Tattoos are a lasting and creative way to express love and creativity for the people and ideas that matter in life. We’ve seen a lot of meaningful ink from members of the donation and transplant community over the years.

So, we asked followers on our social media channels to show us their tats and tell us the stories behind their artwork.

Nearly 50 organ recipients, donor family members and Gift of Life Michigan employees past and present offered submissions.

Here is a sample of the tattoos they sent us.

Tattoo on Joan Smith's arm of a heart with a tree growing out of it
Joanie Smith: Former employee at Gift of Life now working at Henry Ford Health System. The tree is a symbol of life. The heart symbolizes strength and love and reminds her of our donor families.
Cara Moulesong: Organ procurement specialist in Chicago. This represents the beauty of life coming from death in honor of the donors she’s cared for.
Deb Gustafson: Kidney transplant in 2018. “I am standing tall as a mighty redwood. So much love for my living donor.”
Ginger Minor: My five-month-old grandson, Jayden, donated his heart, liver and kidneys. “He was a wonderful little boy.”
Holly Lynn Gatzmyer: Received a life-saving transplant on April 4, 2016.
Jim Chibs Palmer: Double-lung transplant on Oct. 4, 2016. “Thanks to my donor.”
Joanie Smith has a second tattoo honoring life through donation.
Tattoo reading "Two souls, one heart" with the date 11-10-16
Spencer Powell: Heart transplant recipient. This is a symbol of the second chance he received.
Tattoo reading "Donate Life" with the date 9-8-15
Tawny Blum: Her sister gave her 64% of her liver eight years ago.
Tattoo of lungs made from butterflies reading "Just breathe" and the date 7-20-2020
Susie A. Palmer: Received a double-lung transplant on July 20, 2020.

 

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