Friday, May 8, 2009

Celebrating the gift of life

HONORING ORGAN AND TISSUE DONORS: From left, Hamann, Allsopp, Grossman, Fishman, Somerville, Prestipino and Luskin

Members of the MGH Transplant Center and the New England Organ Bank (NEOB) gathered in the Bulfinch Tents April 28 to celebrate National Donate Life Month, established to recognize the generosity of those who have saved lives through the donation of an organ, tissue, marrow or blood.

“We are here to celebrate organ donors and the families of donors for their courage and spirit,” said Jay Fishman, MD, chief of Transplant Infectious Diseases and co-director of the MGH Transplant Center, as he introduced two speakers who shared their personal journeys and the impact organ donation has had on their lives.

Sandie Allsopp spoke about her 17-year-old daughter Brittany, whose heart, lung, kidney, liver and other tissues were donated after her death in a car accident.

“So many people are around because of my little girl, who had decided this was what she wanted to do,” said Allsopp. “It’s important that people make an informed decision about organ donation and then tell their families.”

Alan Grossman, PhD, the recipient of a heart transplant three years ago, thanked the MGH staff for the tremendous care and support he received but reserved highest praise for his organ donor.

“My son still has a father because of organ donation,” he said.

The event concluded with the presentation of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Adminstration Medal of Honor. Richard Luskin, president and chief executive officer of the NEOB, awarded the medal to Fishman; Ann Prestipino, senior vice president of Surgical and Anesthesia Services and Clinical Business Development; Jackie Somerville, RN, PhD, associate chief nurse; and Greg Hamann, administrative director of Nephrology and End Stage Renal Disease.

More than 2,800 people in Massachusetts and 101,000 people in the United States are waiting for transplants, far more than the number of organs that are available each year. Last month, to encourage donation, the Transplant Center and NEOB sponsored information tables in the White Lobby. Computers were available to allow visitors to register as organ donors with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles’ new online tool.

Find out more about the MGH Transplant Center

Back to Top