The Medical Center of Aurora is a proud supporter of National Donate for Life Month. When just one person chooses to become an organ donor, they can save up to eight lives. Our staff not only saves lives every day at The Medical Center of Aurora, but chose to save lives by signing up to be organ donors as well.
Our TMCA team had some incredible responses when asked why they chose to become an organ donor. Check out Gayle’s incredible story.
“I signed up to be an organ donor because……..
In the very early days of organ transplant in the 1970’s I was a nurse at University Hospital, originally known as Colorado General. It was there that some of the pioneers of organ transplant were found. In particular, the famous Dr. Thomas Starzl and his colleagues. I saw firsthand the struggles of those early days. Jaundiced babies were brought from near and far in the hopes that someone could save them. The renal transplants were the first successful procedures, but the side effects of the anti-rejection medications caused many other issues. The first cardiac transplants were not successful, and rejection was the enemy of all.
Fast forward to the 90’s. I was the Director of Surgical Services at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville , Florida. When I arrived there the hospital was just starting a liver transplant program. I had the distinct honor of being present for the first case. So many advances had been made since those pioneer days. Instead of the hours of surgery, extensive blood loss, and critical ICU status of the early days ……this patient left the OR extubated, had no transfusions other than returned cell saver units, and spent very little time in the ICU. The program was intended to do about 50 cases the first year, and that goal was achieved in the first few months – so many lives changed. I will never forget the night we did our fist heart and lung transplants. We had multiple ORs going all night, and some very tired folks, but we were grateful for helping to give a new lease on life to several people.
Lastly, I have had personal experience with organ transplants. My cousin received a heart transplant in the 90’s, after contracting a virus that caused severe cardiomyopathy and resultant heart failure. He was able to enjoy another ten years with his wife and family. My friend’s granddaughter was born with a congenital heart defect and had a transplant as an infant. She is now a happy and healthy grade school student. Sadly, my youngest sister suffered a tragic accident in 2011. She also had chosen to be an organ donor, and her kidneys were transplanted into two folks in the Midwest who are grateful to be off dialysis and enjoying life.
Remember also the importance of eye and tissue donation, which can help repair injuries, preserve limbs, restore sight, and treat burns. In my many years of nursing I have witnessed the benefits of these donations, and myself have been the recipient of tissue to repair a torn ACL.
Don’t take your organs to heaven – be an angel to someone here that can use them! When my time comes I hope that I can make a difference in the life of another person.
-Gayle Miller, MS/MBA, RN, CPAN