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Events

Spring 2013: Donate Life Month

Promoting National Donate Life Month

The greatest gift we ever receive is the gift of life, and transplant patients and their families are keenly aware of just how precious that gift is. Donate Life Month, recognized each year in April, was created with the purpose of increasing awareness of the need for organ, eye and tissue donation, and to educate the public on how they can become an organ donor.

During the week of April 8, the Pediatric Transplant Center hosted an information booth in Boston Children's Hospital lobby to greet staff and visitors and provide information about organ donation. The booth included free Donate Life items (pens, bumper stickers), brochures, flyers and a slide show featuring Pediatric Transplant Center patients. Throughout the day, staff from the Pediatric Transplant Center, transplant recipients and family members who staffed the booth answered questions from visitors looking to learn more about organ donation and various Boston Children's transplant programs. A computer was on hand for use by anyone who wanted to immediately register as an organ donor. Through our efforts, 10 people registered as organ donors, which may result in dozens of lives saved one day.

In addition to providing education and increasing awareness about organ donation, workers at the booth collected used cellphones. In cooperation with Children’s Organ Transplant Association, proceeds from these recycled cellphones will go directly to support the families of children waiting for a life-saving transplant. The Pediatric Transplant Center was able to recycle more than 100 used cellphones through this program. If you have used cellphones that you would like to donate and will be visiting Boston Children’s, contact us at transplant@childrens.harvard.edu for more information.

The culminating event for Organ Donation Awareness week was Nursing Grand Rounds held on April 11. This event is for hospital staff interested in learning more about transplantation. For the event, a patient or parent of a patient from each transplant program (heart, lung, liver, kidney and intestine) was invited to share their unique story. It was an incredible opportunity to hear how organ donation has directly impacted their lives. The audience was moved to tears and laughter as each speaker described their challenging journey as a transplant patient, or as a parent of an organ recipient.

After hearing from other transplant recipient families, Jessica Waters, RN, (a Boston Children's nurse) shared her family’s experience with organ donation. At 16, Jessica's brother asked their mother why there was a heart symbol on her driver’s license. She explained that it was a symbol of one’s decision to be an organ donor. This led to a conversation about organ donation. It was during this conversation that her brother expressed his desire to be an organ donor. Little did they know how important this conversation would become in the future. When Jessica’s brother eventually passed away, her parents honored his wish to be an organ donor. In doing so, seven families received the gift of life.

One of the most important things that Jessica wanted to share with the group was how important it is to talk to your loved ones about your decision to be an organ donor. Even if you are registered, your family could still refuse to have your organs donated if they are not educated about your wishes. Jessica remembered her brother’s decision saying, “His curiosity at 16 about why my mother had a heart on her license led us to confidently honoring his wishes to be an organ donor.”

If you are interested in being involved in organ awareness activities in our hospital, please contact us at transplant@childrens.harvard.edu.You can also become involved with organ donation education through the New England Organ Bank (NEOB). For more information about volunteer opportunities with the NEOB, visit their website at www.neob.org.