An optimal hospital donation process is good for potential donors and their families. What is considered optimal? It all starts when a member of the healthcare team has referred a potential organ donor to Gift of Life in a timely manner. It then continues with a team approach (healthcare team and Gift of Life) to providing families with compassionate end of life care and supporting them through the donation process. Collaboration and constant communication between the healthcare team and Gift of Life ensures that together, we are helping families leave a legacy for their loved one.
When the donation process goes optimally, families typically find comfort and peace in their hospital experience, their experience with Gift of Life, and knowing that their loved one went on to help others through the gift of organ donation.
When we spoke to organ donor families about what was important and mattered the most to them during their time in the hospital, the common theme they shared with us was empathy.
Markita Lewis, whose 13-year-old son, Marquis, gave the gift of life to three people when he became an organ donor after an asthma attack. Markita remembered many kindnesses of the nurses at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“The nurses hugged me every night. I don’t know how they do it without breaking down, but they have that empathy. Until this day, they are my second family and I do not know where I would be without organ donation,” says Markita. “It’s so comforting to know he was able to save lives.”
The Moyer family, whose son Ethan was killed by a drunk driver, needed time to consider Ethan’s wishes.
Ron, Ethan’s dad recalls, “No one made us feel like we had to do this. This was our journey and we were given the time to understand that it is what Ethan would have wanted.”
“No one made us feel like we had to do this. This was our journey and we were given the time to understand that it is what Ethan would have wanted.”
Ethan’s sister, Rachel, reflected on the compassionate care the hospital staff at Lehigh Valley Hospital provided to him and his family. “They made us feel like it was okay to ask questions. Your mind is in a whole other place. To be given time and space to think about what you’ve been told… They understood that we had just lost someone.”
The lives of these families are forever changed. Together, through an optimal hospital donation process, we get to touch these families and support them through an extremely rare and special experience.