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Donate Life Month sees return of transplant reunion picnic

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As part of recognizing National Donate Life Month, more than 300 transplant patients and their families attended AdventHealth’s transplant reunion in Orlando. The picnic returned in 2023 for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic halted in-person events.

The picnic — which helps bring awareness to the importance of organ donation — unites organ donors and recipients, and the doctors, nurses and other caregivers who helped them through their transplant journey.

The picnic also celebrated 50 years since AdventHealth Transplant Institute’s first transplant in January 1973. Dr. Robert Metzger, who performed that procedure, was in attendance. As was Terri Miller who received a kidney donated by her brother 48 years ago and is the institute’s oldest living transplant recipient.

More than 114,000 people are waiting for a lifesaving transplant in the U.S., according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. Of those, about 520 are being cared for by teams at the AdventHealth Transplant Institute, Orlando’s only solid-organ transplant program.

The Transplant Institute team works closely with OurLegacy, the federally-designated organ procurement organization for 10 counties in east Central Florida. OurLegacy works with hospitals and donor families to coordinate the organ donation process. Florida residents can sign up to be an organ donor at

Many of the innovations and programs at the AdventHealth Transplant Institute are funded though philanthropy. Among them is the Bartch Transplant House ­— a home-away-from-home that provides housing, support and amenities at an affordable cost for patients and families. Those amenities are funded through donations to the Patient Assistance Fund.

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