Gift of Hope and Loretto Hospital in Chicago unveiled and dedicated the Hope & Life donation-themed outdoor mural at a June 27, 2019 ceremony at the hospital. The mural is designed to raise community awareness of organ and tissue donation, start the donation conversation and honor individuals and family members who have offered the gift of life.
Community residents, elected officials, Gift of Hope representatives and special guests attended the highly anticipated reveal, which featured the elements of time, diversity and hope.
Hospital Development Coordinator Jessica Rodriguez led the planning and execution of the second project of its kind in the city. The first outdoor mural project was unveiled and dedicated on Nov. 14, 2018, at Norwegian American Hospital in Chicago. Earlier this year, Jessica approached Loretto Hospital with the idea, and they immediately embraced the donation-themed art project.
The artist, 30-year-old Mauricio Ramirez, a resident of the Austin community, became passionate about art early in his life. He learned color theory, design and form from early exposure to graffiti art. Ramirez attended the University of Illinois where he majored in English and Education. He draws inspiration from human interaction, cultural roots and topics that resonate with him personally. He has done murals in Canada and across the U.S. in New York, Los Angeles and Albuquerque, but this project gave him the opportunity to work with a topic that was new to him, organ and tissue donation.
“Donation was new to me, but I was excited to create a narrative around that topic through art,” said Ramirez. “There are many symbols inside the mural; an hourglass, a heart, a butterfly and two individuals. The hourglass represents time; time that is given to those who receive transplants; time that stops for those who pass on; and time that is sacred for those who are waiting [for transplants]. The two individuals represent diversity and the butterfly represents hope and freedom.”
Serving the Austin Community
George Miller Jr., President & CEO of Loretto Hospital, encouraged community members to become organ and tissue donors to help fight the life expectancy disparity in the Austin area. “We’re proud of our partnership with Gift of Hope and of this beautiful mural we’re unveiling today,” said Miller. “One way to fight disparity in life expectancy is through organ and tissue donation, and today I’m going to sign up.” Miller signed a donor registry card that morning, officially registering his decision to become an organ and tissue donor.
Gift of Hope President/CEO Kevin Cmunt discussed how donation unites communities. “When we talk about bringing communities together in Chicago and the state of Illinois, I don’t think there is anything that does that better than organ and tissue donation and transplantation,” Cmunt noted. “The majority of our organ donors’ gifts go to people of a different color — it’s just the way we’re made — we’re actually all the same on the inside and organ and tissue donation brings us together.”
Diversity & Donation
Jermaine Cullum, a 16-year-old who became a donor on May 3, 2014, is a true example of how donation transcends various forms of diversity. His donated gifts helped save the lives of three people of different genders, ages and ethnicities. His mother, Tarcia Patton, shared her son’s story with event attendees. “Oh, my boy had it all, except time,” said Patton. “He was a freshman in high school and had made the varsity basketball team when he lost his life. He had a heart attack during a basketball game and collapsed.”
Cullum was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced brain dead three days later. Before his death, Cullum let his mother know that when the time came he would want to be an organ and tissue donor to help others. And his mother, also a registered organ and tissue donor, honored his decision.
“The one thing that kept me going was knowing that Jermaine was going to be a donor and help others continue on with their lives,” said Patton. “Jermaine shared his liver, kidneys, pancreas and lungs with three people. I am very grateful to Gift of Hope, which has offered my family and me so much.”
Loretto Hospital is located at 645 S. Central Ave. in Chicago. The outdoor mural is located on the corner of S. Central Ave. and W. Flournoy St. and is visible while driving east on the Eisenhower Expressway.