Special Quilt Honoring Memory of Organ and Tissue Donors to Debut in Rome

Rome, Italy (August 30, 2000) - A patchwork of love, the National Donor Family Quilt, will have its first international showing at the 18th International Congress of the Transplantation Society, held here today through August 31, 2000. The handmade quilt, a project of the National Kidney Foundation's National Donor Family Council, is composed of 1,250 eight inch squares of fabric, individually designed by family members of organ and tissue donors and stitched together by a donor mother, Margaret Coolican, who lost her six-year-old daughter to a brain aneurysm.

The quilt, which is a moving tribute to the selflessness of those whose generous donation has enabled others to receive a second chance at life, has toured the United States for the last seven years, visiting more than 200 cities annually to spread awareness about organ and tissue donation. This special exhibition in Rome, sponsored by Novartis A.G of Basel, Switzerland, marks the first time it has left the U.S. Says Ms. Coolican, "We hope to make the quilt a global tribute to donor families and anticipate that the quilt's appearance this week in Rome will encourage families all over the world to memorialize their loved ones in a meaningful way by creating a square for our quilt."

The quilt project is never finished-- one side is always left open for new squares. Families have the opportunity to contribute squares to the quilt at any time. Four times each year, the National Donor Family Council hosts quilt pinning ceremonies where families can bring new squares and share feelings and memories about their loved ones to an audience of donor families. The squares are later stitched on to the quilt.

Says John Davis, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation, "The quilt has evoked a heartfelt response from donor families across America. They embrace the idea of creating a lasting tribute to their loved ones." Each square is personalized with special details designed to honor the donor's life, such as photographs, poems, quotes and fabric from favorite clothing.

Many of the squares on the National Donor Family Quilt- Patches of Love-- can be viewed on the Internet at www.donorfamily.org. Stories about the donors whose lives the squares represent are also posted. For more information contact the National Kidney Foundation at (212) 889-2210.