Celebrating Organ Donation

What made this year’s Donate Life Month at Boston Children’s one of the best ever? There’s only one way to find out…
By Matt Bittle

Spring is a season of renewal, and April is the month when we first begin to see nature’s rebirth all around us: Flowers begin to poke through the cold, formerly hard earth; the chirping of birds becomes constant; and trees start to bud and grow their leaves once again.

It’s the perfect time of year to reflect on new beginnings and the gift of life.

Consequently, April is designated as Donate Life Month, when people come together to raise awareness about the need for organ, eye and tissue donation, while educating the public on how they can donate to others.

The Pediatric Transplant Center set aside the second week of April as Organ Donation Awareness Week at Boston Children’s Hospital. Employees participated in special activities designed to bring greater awareness of the need for organ and tissue donation to the Boston Children’s community. Staff volunteers hosted a colorful display and information table in the Fegan lobby, highlighting the work done by the Pediatric Transplant Center and showcasing a powerful slide show celebrating many children who received life-saving organ transplants at Boston Children’s.

Staff and visitors could learn about the importance of organ transplantation and organ donation. If so inspired, a computer was on hand for those who wished to register as an organ donor on the spot.

In addition to educating and promoting awareness, volunteers collected donations of nearly 100 used cell phones. In cooperation with the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, proceeds from the recycled cell phones go directly to support families of children waiting for a life-saving transplant. (If you have used cell phones that you would like to donate and will be visiting Boston Children’s, contact us at transplant@childrens.harvard.edu for information on how to donate them.)

We also hosted the hospital’s first Blue and Green Day—a festive opportunity for patients and staff to display the official colors of Donate Life. Blue and green shirts, sunglasses, pom-poms and leis were seen throughout the hospital. Everyone had a fun time comparing their outfits and posing for photos, which were shared on the Pediatric Transplant Center’s Facebook page to rave reviews. (Follow us on Facebook to see all these great pictures and stories for yourself!)

The culminating event for Organ Donation Awareness week was Nursing Grand Rounds.  Organ transplant patients and their parents and a donor familyshared their experience in a moving presentation to Boston Children’s staff. It was an incredible opportunity for staff to hear how organ donation has directly impacted the lives of donors, recipients and their families. The audience was moved to tears and laughter as each speaker described their challenging journey as a transplant patient, parent of an organ recipient or parent of an organ donor.

If you are interested in being involved in organ donation awareness activities in your community, 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.