Taylor’s Gift Foundation, the Dallas-based nonprofit created to raise the visibility of organ donation, launches the new Kindred Hearts Program with a mission to help organ donor families receive the emotional support they need. Through the Kindred Hearts Program, Taylor’s Gift will offer support groups and a dedicated Caring Guide to walk with organ donor families as they navigate through their grief journey.

Tara and Todd Storch, the founders of Taylor’s Gift, understand grief all too well. When their 13-year-old daughter Taylor died in a skiing accident in March 2010, their decision to donate Taylor’s organs saved the lives of five people.

Tara says grief can sometimes be very different for organ donor families. “It’s complicated grief – one mixed with the terrible shock of the sudden loss of your loved one mixed with the gratitude that your loved one was able to help others with a second chance of life. That is what organ donation is – a mix of grief and gratitude.”

When they lost Taylor, Tara’s brother gave them the name of a grief counselor. “Without my brother, we wouldn’t have had any idea on where to find emotional support,” Tara says. “Many donor families are not as blessed as we were. They are struggling just to get through the day. They don’t know how they will go on or where they can turn. We really felt that we could help.”

Because of their experience, the Storches saw a need to have dedicated emotional support specifically for organ donor families. Through support groups led by trained volunteers, and through a partnership with Heritage CARES to provide trained Caring Guides, the Kindred Hearts Program will fill that void and provide grief support for the entire bereaved family, at no cost, for as long as they need.

Taylor’s Gift’s motto for the organ donor family is, Their gift goes on; You can too. In the case of organ donation, studies prove that donor families often experience complicated grief and post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD.

“We want these families to know we are here to help them go on,” says Elizabeth Hughes, Ph.D., director of grief support services for Taylor’s Gift. “Nationally, there are very few grief support resources specifically dedicated to organ donor families. Our Kindred Hearts Program offers peer-led grief support groups as well as individual and family support. Our trained Caring Guides walk one-on-one with donor families as they navigate the challenges of grief. Taylor’s Gift is proud to offer these services as a natural extension of our mission. Doing so ensures that just as their loved one’s gift goes on, they can too.”

Grief support can be expensive, and there are so many families without the resources to get help – especially the right kind of help with people trained in complex grief therapy and who have been through a similar experience.

Heritage CARES will provide Caring Guides support

Heritage CARES is the country’s leading virtual support program designed to help individuals struggling with stress, substance misuse and suicidal thoughts, and other behavioral health situations, including grief. Unlike some technology-driven companies that only provide online mental health services, Heritage CARES is grounded in peer recovery, family coaching, and online education provided digitally via a virtual learning management platform.

A trained Caring Guide will be hand-selected and matched to an organ donor family. The Caring Guide also has life experience with grief – a shared experience that has tremendous benefits to the donor family.

“What an incredible honor to help donor families who are giving so much through a shocking loss,” says Heritage CARES EVP and Executive Director Rich Jones, MA, MBA, LCAS, SAP. “Grief can have so many unintended consequences if families don’t get help. Like we have for so many others, we look forward to walking with donor families through their grief. We are proud to be involved with Taylor’s Gift and their Kindred Hearts Program and look forward to providing superior care for these very special families.”

Johns Hopkins Study

Also exciting, during the planning and development of the Kindred Hearts Program, the Epidemiology Research Group in Organ Transplantation at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine connected with Taylor’s Gift wanting to conduct a study of Kindred Hearts and the grief support the program will provide.

“It is incredibly validating to have Johns Hopkins recognize the value and need of a dedicated emotional support program for organ donor families,” says Tara. “This partnership with their organization is incredible, and we took it as a sign that we are definitely on the right path. The need is enormous, and the fact that others, like prestigious Johns Hopkins, are seeing it is a very hopeful sign.”

Taylor’s Gift’s Kindred Hearts Program will be available beginning January 2022. For more information on the new Kindred Hearts Program, visit TaylorsGift.org, or call 469-359-7575.

About Taylor’s Gift Foundation

Taylor’s Gift Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that provides emotional support to organ donor families. Founded in 2010, Taylor’s Gift has a long-standing purpose of helping individuals and families who are walking the path of grief. Led by a donor family, professionals, and trained volunteers, their programs provide a safe environment for families and individuals to express feelings and emotions as well as the opportunity to walk with others who are experiencing a grief journey similar to their own. In 2021, they launched the Kindred Hearts Program to help organ donor families receive emotional support. For more information, visit www.TaylorsGift.org.