Explaining the symbolism hidden in this haunting Organ Donor memorial

Posted at 4:03 PM, Aug 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-16 16:11:52-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The National Donor Memorial at the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) headquarters in Richmond includes a 10,000-square-foot garden symbolizing the tumultuous journey of organ donation. A difficult journey for both recipients and donor families.

"The water symbolizes the tears they shed when they lose their loved one," UNOS spokesperson Anne Paschke said. "It also symbolizes the tears the recipient might have when they learn they're going to get a transplant, that gift of life."

UNOS Memorial

If water is the source of all life, the haunting memorial is a powerful metaphor.

"Every drop represents one gift of life, one organ donor, and the concentric circles that it makes represent all the people who are touched, starting with the family of the recipient, their loved ones, and so on," Paschke said.

UNOS Memorial

The memorial flows through different rooms, each one a significant step in the organ donation process.

And all of those loved ones in that process, all those connections- had a voice in how this memorial was created.

UNOS Memorial

"The water that comes out of the water feature travels down and comes out over the gift of life hands and the wall of names," Paschke said. "Those are all representative of everybody who's ever been an organ eye or tissue donor."

Every day CBS 6 is giving a voice to the stories happening in your community. If you have a story idea, email our team at or click here to submit a tip.

EAT IT, VIRGINIA restaurant news and interviews

A Hand to Hold 2023

Help find these kids in Virginia’s foster system loving homes

📱 Download CBS 6 News App
The app features breaking news alerts, live video, weather radar, traffic incidents, closings and delays and more.