Giving Tree at Ingram Park Mall honors organ, eye, and tissue donors

Families have the chance to share their loved ones’ stories through the end of the year

SAN ANTONIO – It’s a symbol standing tall at the Ingram Park Mall -- the Giving Tree.

For the seventh year, Donate Life has brought the unique display back to San Antonio to share stories of lifesaving donors, like William Berlin.

Looking at Highway 90, you’d never know this is the place where Max and Gloria Berlin’s lives changed forever.

”Yeah, my training made it harder,” Max, William’s father, said.

His training as a military and civilian medic gave him firsthand knowledge of what was happening with his son.

“Him and his friend apparently ran across Highway 90, they made it across the eastbound side, they almost made it to the westbound side,” Max said.

They were hit by a pickup truck back in November 2017.

William was thrown before being taken to the hospital. After two weeks there, he died from his injuries.

”Even at death he was able to answer prayers for some people who needed donations,” Gloria Berlin, William’s mom said.

Unfortunately, William died at the age of 22. He was able to donate kidneys, corneas, and tissue.

Their son’s story is one of many featured on the Giving Tree, a display by the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center and Texas Organ Sharing Alliance.

”It’s to honor all of those who gave the gift of life through organ, eye, and tissue donation,” said Ashley Frolick, the digital services manager at STBTC.

The demand for donors is continuing to grow.

“There’s hundreds of thousands of people who need a transplant throughout the year. Whether it’s organ, eye or tissue, and just to have those folks who say, ‘you know ‚this is what I want to do’ and sign up for the registry, it’s so helpful,” Frolick said.

By sharing these stories, Frolick and the Berlins hope others will want to be like William and make the choice to become organ donors.

“William was always a giving person -- even at death, he gave. And I’m sure he would be very proud of what he did,” Gloria said.

The lighting ceremony for the Giving Tree will be held virtually on December 22nd at 6:30 p.m.

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About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.