ST. LOUIS (April 26, 2021) – Today, Mercy Hospital Springfield dedicated the Gift of Life Family Room, a gift from the Mid-America Transplant Foundation, the organ procurement organization that serves southwest Missouri. The Gift of Life Family Room offers privacy and comfort for families who have made the heroic decision to donate their loved one’s organs and tissues.
This is the second Gift of Life Family Room supporting families in southwest Missouri. An identical room, the Robert Bezanson Gift of Life Family Room, was dedicated and opened at Cox Medical Center South in October 2019. Both rooms, include a table and chairs, couches, and a small kitchen area, all designed to provide comfort and privacy for families.
“Often, families who lose a loved one remain at the hospital for several days and this emotional time can be exhausting,” said Jay Guffey, Mid-America Transplant Foundation board member and a retired executive from Mercy Hospital Springfield. “We want to provide them with a quiet, comfortable place where they can rest and spend time together, away from the bustle of the rest of the hospital.”
“We are dedicated to carrying out the healing ministry of Jesus for the patients in our care as well as their families,” said Keith Schaefer, director of mission at Mercy Hospital Springfield. “The Gift of Life Family Room helps Mercy meet its mission of being a healing presence for families in the midst organ donation decisions.”
In 2020, 46 individuals in southwest Missouri gave the gift of life through organ donation. Through their selfless act, 145 transplants took place. Another 330 people in southwest Missouri donated tissues in 2020, which will save and heal the lives of thousands of people.
“As one of the major Level I trauma centers for the region, Mercy frequently serves patients and families who have traveled from a few hours away to receive care,” said Dr. Vikram Balakumar, a critical care physician at Mercy Hospital Springfield and a Mid-America Transplant board member. “This space will be especially important for those families who must stay at the hospital for many hours because they have nowhere else to go.”
In addition to the Gift of Life Family Room, Mid-America Transplant Foundation has committed to donate $100,000 over five years to Mercy Hospital Springfield and to Cox Medical Center South to support clinical initiatives that provide the best quality of care for people in southwest Missouri.
“The Gift of Life Family Room has been a valuable resource for our medical center as we support families and honor those who chose to save the lives of others through organ and tissue donation,” said Dr. Tim Woods, a trauma surgeon at Cox Medical Center South and a Mid-America Transplant board member. “Each year, we are humbled by the number of individuals who build a legacy of life through the selfless act of donation.”
“Since opening the Gift of Life Family Room at Cox Medical Center South in 2019, we’ve been able to provide comfort to many families who chose donation,” said Ron Prenger, executive vice president and COO at CoxHealth System and a Mid-America Transplant board member. “People in southwest Missouri have shown their generous spirit time and again, and we look forward to providing this same service for families who say yes to donation at Mercy Hospital Springfield.”
The Gift of Life Family Room dedication at Mercy Hospital Springfield comes at the end of Donate Life month, a reminder to choose organ and tissue donation to provide lifesaving gifts to others. Register to be a donor at www.SayYesGiveLife.org.
About Mid-America Transplant
Mid-America Transplant enables adults and children to receive lifesaving gifts through organ and tissue donations. For more than 40 years, it has facilitated and coordinated organ and tissue donation, and now serves 84 counties covering eastern Missouri, southern Illinois and northeast Arkansas that together are home to 4.7 million people. It saves lives by providing expert and compassionate care for organ donors, recipients and families, and transforms the clinical processes required to recover and transplant organs and tissues. Mid-America Transplant was the first such organization in the U.S. to use an in-house operating room for organ recovery and pioneered innovative models of increasing donor registry enrollment in an effort to provide organs and tissues to those in need. It is federally designated as one of 58 such organizations in the U.S., and is the first organ procurement organization to be recognized as a recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for Performance Excellence. For more information, visit www.midamericatransplant.org.