Here’s how Mid-America Transplant honors organ donors through compassionate care and respect

Published January 18, 2022 in Blog

Compassion is defined as the “feeling that arises when you are confronted with another person’s suffering and you feel motivated to relieve that suffering.” Compassionate care, then, is at the heart of everything that Mid-America Transplant stands for. “We pride ourselves on compassion and empathy. It’s a privilege to walk with these families in the very worst hours of their lives,” says Carlie Crunk, Mid-America Transplant’s Director of Family Support/Hospital Development. “To be invited into their grief journey and be able to provide an extension of that love through our care is really an honor.”  

Ways Mid-America Transplant honors and respects organ donors
There is no greater act of generosity than organ donation. Through compassionate recovery, Mid-America Transplant honors and respects donors in a variety of ways including holding a moment of silence, playing a favorite song, saying a prayer, or talking about who the donor was in the family’s words. In addition, the team facilitates a path of honor, which is an inspiring, emotional moment when family, friends, and staff line the hospital halls to honor a hero who chose to give the gift of life. Personal possessions may also be kept with the donor through recovery. “We have volunteers who are recipients and they make blankets for donor families,” says Crunk. “We keep the blanket with the donor and then after recovery, we send it to the family as the last item that was with their loved one.” 

Crunk also says that they present every donor family with a Donate Life medal for the life-saving gift(s) their loved one has donated. “Their loved one is a hero and heroes deserve medals,” she says. There are also instances where they’ve captured heartbeat recordings that can go into a build-a-bear for families who have lost children. 

Crunk says that all of the ways they’re able to support the families is to help them through their grief. “With death and dying, it’s about the family,” she says. “They are the ones who need that additional care and support and this is a way for us to do that. What we do for families are things that are easy for us to accomplish but it means so much to these families.”

Why is compassionate care important?
Behind every donation and every transplant is a person. Providing compassionate care is a symbol of unity and compassion among families, donors, and their care teams. It serves as a powerful way to say goodbye and give the donor the hero’s sendoff they deserve. “This is someone’s loved one,” says Crunk. “We take pride in caring for them the way we would want our loved ones to be taken care of.” And the families who do donate are grateful they had the opportunity to follow through on their loved one’s final wishes.

Why you should consider organ donation
For anyone who hasn’t considered becoming a registered organ, eye, and tissue donor, Crunk’s message is that organ donation is good. “It’s the greatest gift you can give,” she says. “It provides legacy. I go back to one donor family’s statement of, ‘my son’s heart still beats. It continues to live on through someone else.’ I would absolutely encourage someone to become a donor. There’s nothing that any of us who work here wouldn’t do to ensure everyone we love is a registered donor. We are 100 percent on board with the mission.” 

Each year, the incredible generosity of donors and their families touches the lives of thousands of people in need. Still, there’s more work to be done. Donor families and transplant patients need your support. By registering as an organ or tissue donor, you can bring hope to patients and families who are holding out for a miracle. Sign up for the donor registry to be a beacon of hope to those waiting.