One of the key ways we can nurture advocates for donation is by educating those who interact with families during the difficult time of loss – including nurses and funeral home professionals.
Nurses are at the frontline when a family grapples with end-of-life decisions, answering questions to help families make a decision regarding organ and tissue donation. Also integral to the success of donation are funeral directors, who are influential in helping families choose donation and reassuring them they are able to have funeral/memorial services of their choice to say goodbye to their loved one.
To educate and develop these advocates, the Mid-America Transplant Foundation has donated $25,280 to St. Louis Community College and Southern Illinois University Carbondale to support nursing and mortuary science students through scholarships and apprenticeships. We’re working to make careers in nursing and funeral services more accessible to the next generation of professionals by supporting their education, so they can make an impact in supporting organ and tissue donation.
“We’re grateful for Mid-America Transplant Foundation’s support of our students and the opportunity this partnership provides to introduce them to the profound impact of organ and tissue donation,” said Dr. Robert Morgan, Dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences at SIU Carbondale. “Learning about the lifesaving decisions that can come from grief and loss will undoubtedly make our students more knowledgeable and empathetic when helping families through the loss of a loved one.”
Students who receive the scholarships will also visit Mid-America Transplant to observe the on-site surgical recovery center and learn how their chosen careers connect to donation. They also will have the opportunity to interact with Mid-America Transplant staff, many of whom started their own careers in hospitals and funeral homes.
“Both nurses and funeral service professionals are important to Mid-America Transplant’s mission to save lives through organ and tissue donation, and it is critical that we build relationships with them from the beginning of their careers,” said Kevin Lee, Mid-America Transplant Chief Operations Officer. “By supporting today’s students, we are helping to create compassionate professionals that will be better prepared to support families as they choose donation and bring hope and healing from death.”
In addition to providing scholarships for students in careers that are critical to organ and tissue donation, the Mid-America Transplant Foundation funds innovative clinical research to improve transplantation. The Foundation also operates the Family House to provide housing to patients and their families who must relocate to St. Louis for pre- and post-transplant care and supports grief programs for donor families.