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Organ and Tissue Donor Families Authorize Gifts for Canine Search and Rescue Missions

This summer, Infinite Legacy staff had the opportunity to observe a private Canine (K9) training session in a simulated disaster scenario at the Search & Rescue Assist, Inc. (SARA) training facility in Linthicum, Maryland. SARA, a non-profit organization that trains K9s for search and rescue missions, has a special connection with Infinite Legacy as we provide non-transplantable donated tissue samples to SARA from generous deceased organ and tissue donors whose families authorized donation for educational and research purposes.

Through our research programs at Infinite Legacy, donors can donate organs and tissues not suitable for transplant to far-reaching medical research and therapy initiatives like SARA. As of June 2023, Infinite Legacy has provided 79 non-transplantable organs and 137 tissues so far this year to partners facilitating important medical research. These gifts are helping to save lives because our research partners use the organs and tissue to learn more about disease and develop new and innovative therapies for patients.

Our partnership with SARA began in June 2022, when Infinite Legacy began approaching donor families with an opportunity for their loved ones’ gifts to help search and rescue dogs train to find missing people. Unbeknownst to our Family Services Team, their first-ever approach for this initiative was to a donor family whose loved one coincidentally handled and cared for dogs as a profession. The donor’s family was overwhelmed with emotion when they learned his gifts of tissue would be used to help train canines at SARA. The second approach to a donor family was also a resounding yes and gifts from both donors are already being used in the field. Since that time, many more families have said yes to providing tissue to SARA for these purposes.

Check out the photos and videos below to see the training in action!

Watch this German Shepherd correctly locate the tissue sample under the grate and alert her trainer.

In February, SARA K9 search and rescue teams were deployed to Turkey to assist with the earthquake devastation there and have responded and assisted with other national and international disasters. SARA is also currently preparing to send their teams to assist with hurricane Idalia. These missions would not be possible without generous donors and their brave families for their tissue donations.

Infinite Legacy staff are so grateful for the learning experience and appreciate SARA taking the time to show us the nitty gritty of search and rescue training. We look forward to many more years of partnership so that together we can help reunite families with their missing loved ones or bring closure to families when their deceased loved one is located.


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