Garden of Hope honors organ and tissue donors

, , ,

By Lois Miller, RN, BSN, Garden of Hope Project Manager

 

Nationally, more than 117,000 people are waiting for transplants, and that number rises every day. Those transplants might be the difference between life and death, which is why all organ and tissue donors, whether living or deceased, deserve gratitude.

View of the Garden of HopeA group of Tri-County Health Care employees and interested community members proposed the idea of a memorial garden. A garden represents life and hope and could serve as an inspiration to others to consider organ and tissue donation.

The nonprofit organization LifeSource, which aims to save lives with organ and tissue donation in the Upper Midwest, helped the garden committee spark ideas for this new project. The committee included a heart transplant recipient and two families of organ donors.

Youngbauer Landscaping built the garden on the Wesley Hospital lawn and unveiled the work in progress to the public during Tri-County’s community block party on July 18.

A circle of pavers will surround a weathered stone bench and blooming plants while the organ donation flag flies overhead. One by one, each paver will be engraved with a donor’s name. The peaceful area offers visitors a place to rest, reflect and recognize each donor listed.

The centerpiece of the garden is a poem engraved in granite, written by former Wadena resident and heart transplant recipient Jim Swenson. He penned the poem about six months after receiving his transplant on Sept. 18, 2004.Garden of Hope on the Wesley Lawn

“How else can I put it other than to say I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t received that gift of a heart?” Jim said. “It means everything. It’s a chance for life, and it is almost impossible in words to express gratitude for being given that chance.

“I can tell you from a standpoint of caregivers, while they are waiting for loved ones … I think the garden would be a wonderful place for them to go sit for a while rather than a hospital waiting room.”

You can share in the legacy established by the Garden of Hope by purchasing a paver to honor a donor or by making a donation toward the garden’s preservation. Pavers will be added on an ongoing basis and can be ordered at any time.

Brochures and paver order forms are available at Tri-County Hospital entrances or can be obtained from Project Manager Lois Miller at 218-631-7485 or lois.miller@tchc.org. A plaque in the garden will recognize those who have made a financial donation.

 


“To Be A Hero”, by Sam Kelderman

, , ,

By Guest Blogger: Kandi Kelderman

April 2017

I shouldn’t have worried. Seriously, what outcome has ever been changed by worry?

Kelderman brothers: Zack, Tate & Sam

April is Donate Life Month. Also, this week marks what would have been Sam’s 19th birthday. We still celebrate Sam’s day. Why? In part, because Sam chose to outlive himself. Let me explain.

On average, 123 thousand people are waiting for a transplant nationwide. 3,700 of these waiting people are in our 4-state area (MN, SD, ND, Eastern WI). 63% of registered drivers in Minnesota have chosen to “Outlive Themselves” and check the donor box when renewing their licenses or by registering online. Every day, 21 people die due to the donor shortage. Up to 60 people can be saved/helped by the generosity of one donor.

Last month, I spoke to a room full of emergency professionals. I showed them Baby, Sam’s fireman doll, who kept Sam company and safe while his brothers were at school or during nap time. Baby was Sam’s first hero. The EMTs, firemen and officers that responded to Sam’s car accident, are our heroes.

“Baby”, Sam’s fireman doll.

So, what does this have to do with my worry? I couldn’t (and still can’t) find my notes from that last presentation. I had planned on using those notes for this post and was all wrapped up on worry about locating them. Searching the same box of papers for the umpteenth time, I came across something MUCH better; an essay Sam had written 4 months before he died. I hadn’t read it before. There was no need for this mere-mortal mom to worry. Sam did my work for me. Here is his essay…

****
September 2015
To Be A Hero
by Sam Kelderman

To me, a hero is anyone who can make a good impact on someone else or even something else, such as the environment or your country.

A hero can be a police officer, fireman or even the mailman. They don’t have to be like a superhero in a costume or have their own title. A hero can be anyone. You may not think about it, but you could’ve been a hero before and you didn’t realize it.

Sam’s 4×200 WDC Relay Team

Doing even little things can make a BIG impact, such as picking up others’ trash or putting a quarter in a parking meter that’s going to run out of time. You might not think it’s a big deal, but to the recipient, it is a big deal. They might be thankful for what you have done for them.

You don’t have to be all special and have super powers to be a hero. I’m talking about the ones you see on TV or in comic books. They seem to be so special because they have powers and the ability to fly or do something spectacular. They dress up in tights, capes and supersuits. You don’t have to be all fancy and wear funny costumes to be a hero. You don’t have to have special powers or abilities. A hero can be any person.

Another type of hero is a firefighter who helps someone or something get out of a burning house or a hole they fell into. Someone who is willing to sacrifice their own life is a hero to me. An officer could also be a hero. They can help by stopping crazy drivers on the road to keep others safe.There are heroes all around you that you haven’t recognized.

All over the world there are heroes. You can even be a hero by helping with little things. Being a hero can be hard, but also it can be easy. Don’t you think it is worth the reward of trust, respect or just listening to people talk good about you? When you hear people talking, don’t you feel all good inside?

To get to the point, being a hero doesn’t mean you have to be famous and have all the world know you. You can be a secret hero and just be anonymous. A hero to me can be anyone who helps others or the world.
*******

I couldn’t have said it better. Heroes sometimes wear badges and boots. Heroes check the donor box. Heroes outlive themselves. Thanks for writing this for me Sam.

On Jan 22, 2016, Sam Kelderman died in a car accident on his way to go ice fishing with friends. He was a junior at Wadena-Deer Creek High School and loved track, football, snowmobiling and anything mechanical.
Sam checked the donor box at 16. His plans were to attend the University of North Dakota to study engineering.

A track meet “The Sam Kelderman Invite’ is May 4 at Wadena-Deer Creek Track. See all the details at the bottom of this post.

Kandi & Darren working the Donate Life booth at Men’s Night Out.

About the guest blogger: Sam’s parents, Darren and Kandi, are active with LifeSource (Donate Life) and speak with Drivers’ Ed. classes, youth groups, churches and other organizations about donation. Contact them at (218)639-1855 for more information.

Go to DonateLifeMN.org to register to become a donor.

 

 

 

 

 


Tri-County Honors Organ, Tissue and Eye Donors and Recipients with Flag-Raising Ceremony

, , , ,

Donate Life Flag-Raising Ceremony

The Donate Life Flag is being flown at Tri-County Health Care during the month of April to honor local organ and tissue donors, their families and recipients. The display is part of a national initiative, Flags Across America, designed to honor and celebrate the hundreds of thousands of donors and recipients whose lives have been affected by organ, eye and tissue donation. Locally, Tri-County Health Care partners with LifeSource, to support families at the end-of-life and offer the opportunity of organ and tissue donation.

To honor those local donor families and recipients, a flag-raising ceremony was held on April 5 at Tri-County Health Care. Special guests included Donna Grendahl, whose son was a heart transplant recipient. Also speaking was Barb Nelson-Agnew, Hospital liaison for LifeSource, spoke that a donation by one person can save and heal up to 60 lives through organ, eye and tissue donation.

Jim & Barb Swenson

 

Tri-County Chief Financial Officer Kim Aagard, who’s the mother of a donor, shared a poem written by heart recipient Jim Swenson, from Willmar, MN. He wrote it shortly after his transplant in 2004 to recognize donors and donor families for the selfless gift of donation.  As he shared, “It’s just my way of trying to put into words how I feel.”

 

 

The unexpected knock, the unexpected call.

The tired saddened doctor’s face seemed to say it all.

Everything had been done, your heart sank at the sound.

And now you finally knew, your loved one was down.

 

As you learned the unwanted truth, there was nothing more to do

Your emotions took flight to say, now how do we make it through.

Your loved one didn’t plan it, as you face this awful strife

But now you face the question, do you give the gift of life.

 

Though your sorrow cannot be measured, our thanks is great indeed.

For donors are the heroes we thought we’d never need.

And donors are the heroes we never got to know.

They’ve lost it all, but in that loss they gave life the greatest gift of all.

TCHC President/CEO Joel Beiswenger

“Today, 119,000 people are on the national transplant waiting list, and 22 of them will die today for lack of an organ. We encourage our community members to join with Tri-County to help save lives through a national campaign to encourage people to register to become organ donors,” said Joel Beiswenger, Tri-County Health Care President and CEO, who also spoke at the ceremony. Kim Aagard and Donna Grendahl, raised the flag at the conclusion of the program. Around 40 donor families, transplant recipients, friends and the public gathered for the presentation and flag raising.

Across the nation, thousands of Donate Life flags will be flown and displayed throughout the month of April – National Donate Life Month. In addition to this initiative, Tri-County Health Care offers donor families the option of flying the flag at the hospital, during their loved one’s donation event, in a show of support and to honor their loved one’s memory. If you are interested in learning more about organ and tissue donation, please visit: life-source.org.


Donate Life: Leaving a lasting legacy

, , , ,

Kim Aagard

In July 2009 Tom and Kim Aagard received a sympathy letter in the mail from LifeSource, a non-profit organization focusing on organ, eye and tissue donation, with condolences on their son Tommy’s passing. Included in the letter were the details about the transplant recipients who received a second chance of life because of Tommy’s generous gift. In the list of recipients was a Minnesota man. “A 59-year-old man received the gift of Thomas’s heart. This recipient is married, lives in Minnesota and is a father,” the letter read.

***

Stephanie Larson, a young mother of two, has worked at Tri-County Health Care since 2003. After having a cardiac arrest in October 2011, at the age of 32 she was able to recover and receive a new heart in September 2012. Because of her personal experience, she volunteers to raise awareness in the Wadena area about organ and tissue donation. She suggested a LifeSource exhibit at TCHC’s February Festival of Health. She asked her friend Bill Carlson, of Minnetonka, to help her with the booth. She had met Bill when she was staying in the hospital at the University of Minnesota ICU after her transplant. They hit it off immediately. Stephanie said, “He came in often to check in to give me support. He was a constant for me during my time and my transplant.” Bill had lain in the exact bed in Room 3503 back in 2009 as Stephanie did in 2012 – when he received his own heart transplant.

***

Kim was working at the 2014 February Festival of Health and she approached the LifeSource booth. Kim spotted a sign that read “My Donor” with a photo of her son Tommy underneath. Looking back on that moment, Kim describes it as surreal. There, standing behind the table, was Bill.

Kim said, “I picked up the photo and looked at Bill and said, ‘This is a photo of my son Tommy.’” Bill recalled that he was so nervous that he didn’t know how to respond to Kim. “It was like all of a sudden you’re meeting a sister that you never had,” he said. Because of the impact of meeting Kim, Bill couldn’t finish working at the event and Stephanie stepped in for him.

He called his wife immediately and told her, “‘I just met Tommy’s mom.’ My wife could tell by my voice that I was very emotional about it, and she asked if I’d be able to drive back home to Minnetonka.”

Meanwhile, Kim had left the event to call her husband and tell him what had happened. She asked if Tom wanted to come to the event and meet Bill. At first Tom was unsure, and the two hung up. But less than 10 minutes later Kim’s phone rang and Tom said, “It’s meant to be. I’m on my way to meet you both.” For the next couple of hours, the three sat and talked.

Today, as Kim, Bill and Stephanie sit together reciting their fate-filled story filled with tears and smiles, Bill explains a saying they recite in his weekly support group. “‘Live your life everyday like your donor is watching. Treat this life with the utmost respect to the gift that was given to you by them.’ I will thank Tommy every day of my life.”

L-R: Bill, Kim and Stephanie

 

 

INFORMATION ON HOW TO BECOME AN ORGAN DONOR:
*This story was originally published in the March 2017 edition of Tri-County Health Care’s Healthy Times. To read this article, and the other articles, click here.

April is Donate Life Month

, , , ,

Donate Life Month

Did you know that anyone, regardless of their age, can be an organ or tissue donor? That is right! We can all be life savers at any age. Our medical condition at the time of our death determines what organs and tissues can be donated. We can also become a living donor.

Did you know…

  • Every 10 minutes someone is added to the national transplant waiting list and on average 22 people die every day while waiting for a transplant.
  • One donor can save and heal as many as 60 lives through organ, eye and tissue donation. More than 90% of the patients waiting for a transplant can be helped by a living donor.
  • Organs and tissues that can be transplanted include heart and heart valves, lung, kidney, pancreas, liver, intestines, corneas, skin, tendons and bone.
  • 64% of all adults in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota are registered donors.

** Statistical information courtesy of LifeSource

All major religions approve of organ/tissue donation and consider it to be an act of charity. Pope Francis has been quoted as stating that donation is “a testimony of love of our neighbor”. The gift of life is the most precious gift we can give.

You too can register to become a donor at www.life-source.org and your decision to be a donor should be noted on your driver’s license. It is also important to discuss your decision to donate with your family. That knowledge will be a gift to them.

Celebrate Life Flag Raising Event
Come and join us as we celebrate life on April 8 at 9 a.m. We will hear from a local resident who received a heart transplant as a teenager and from the mother of a teen who was a recent donor. Their stories of love promise to be most inspiring. Our Donate Life flag will be raised that day and will be flown for the remainder of April as we recognize Donate Life month.

The flag raising ceremony will be held on Friday, April 8 at 9 a.m. All donor families, transplant recipients, friends and the public are invited to gather outside the Emergency Room entrance of Tri-County Health Care, near the flag pole. A press release about this event can be found on the Tri-County Health Care website at http://www.tchc.org/media.

About the Author:
LoisMiller0416
Lois Miller graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the College of St. Benedict in 1976 and since then has worked as a Registered Nurse (RN) at Tri-County Health Care. Since 1992, Lois has worked with the organ/tissue donation program and has worked with patients as they have waited for and received transplants. Lois has a close friend who is currently in need of a kidney transplant. Lois is pictured here with her dog Yoku, a Westie Terrier Mix.


Tri-County Health Care recognized by US Department of Health and Human Services

, , , , ,

Tri-County Health Care is among a select group of hospitals and transplant centers nationwide recognized by the U.S.

Barb Nelson-Agnew from Life Source presenting award to Lois Miller, alongside Kathy Kleen (left) Chief Nursing Officer and CEO/President Joel Beiswenger (far right).

Barb Nelson-Agnew from Life Source presenting award to Lois Miller, alongside Kathy Kleen (left) Chief Nursing Officer and CEO/President Joel Beiswenger (far right).

Department of Health and Human Services for reaching a bronze level of achievement by conducting activities that promote enrollment in state organ donor registries. Tri-County Health Care is part of the national Workplace Partnership for Life Hospital Campaign, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health And Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration.

Tri-County Health Care’s awareness and registry campaigns educated staff, patients, visitors, and community members on the critical need for organ, eye, and tissue donors and thereby increased the number of potential donors on the state’s donor registry. The hospital earned points for each activity implemented during Phase IV of the campaign, between August 1, 2014 and April 30, 2015, and was awarded bronze recognition by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Since January 1, 2014, four tissue donors at Tri-County Health Care have provided more than 240 life-saving and enhancing tissue gifts for grateful transplant recipients from Minnesota and beyond. “Our staff is committed to the mission of donation and we encourage others to give the precious gift of life,” said Joel Beiswenger, Tri-County Health Care President and CEO. “The need is real and by registering to become a donor you have an opportunity to provide a second chance at life.”

A gold standard in health care is to have hospitals refer every death to their donation agency partner within one hour and Tri-County Health Care has achieved a 100 percent timely referral rate since 2014. In 2015, 100 percent of families who have been approached about donation have said “yes” to it, either by honoring their loved one’s decision to be a donor, or by authorizing donation to proceed upon their loved one’s death. This speaks to the care and compassion the family receives while at the hospital, as we know they are more likely to proceed with donation if their comfort level is high.

Donate Life Flag

Donate Life Flag

Tri-County Health Care has implemented a donate life flag flying policy and offers the donor family the option of having the donate life flag risen at the hospital and flown for 24 hours in remembrance of their loved one and in honor of the selfless gifts they are leaving as a lasting legacy.

Of the 1,658 hospitals and transplant centers enrolled in the campaign, 736 were awarded recognition during this phase of the campaign. These numbers represent a 29 percent increase in enrollment and a 56 percent increase in recognition over Phase III, and, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, are “a tribute to the work that so many have dedicated to this effort. Most important, since launching in 2011, the campaign has added more than 350,000 donor enrollments to state registries around the country, far surpassing the original goal of 300,000.”

This campaign is a special effort of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Workplace Partnership for Life designed to mobilize the nation’s hospitals to increase the number of those registered as potential organ, eye, and tissue donors. The campaign unites donation advocates at hospitals with representatives from their organ procurement organizations, Donate Life America state teams, and state hospital associations. Working together, teams leverage communications resources and outreach efforts to proactively promote the critical need for donors.

Video from our flag raising ceremony this past spring:

For more information about Tri-County Health Care’s participation in this campaign, contact Lois Miller, RN at 218-631-7463 or via e-mail at lois.miller@tchc.org.


Organ Donation – Personal Testimony

, , , , ,
donatelifeWhen I was younger, I never really thought about how I would die. As I became a teenager and then into my 20’s, I was invincible and did not think I would die. When I was 32, I in fact did die.
No 32-year-old healthy person without a family history of illness thinks they will suffer a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). That’s what I thought until the dreaded night in October. On October 22, 2011 my perspective changed forever. When a person suffers from a SCA, the chances of surviving are slim. A person must receive help within 10 minutes or permanent damage can occur, and most likely will die. I was one of the very fortunate ones that survived. Had I been anywhere else that night, I could easily have become a statistic. Instead, I am humbled to be a survivor. The road to recovery was long, but, well worth it.
My health had failed me, but with the great technology of today’s time I was able to have a Left Ventricular Assistive Device (LVAD) placed. This device kept me alive and would sustain me, but not heal me. Along the way, I learned that if I wanted to try to resume a “normal” life, I needed a heart transplant. The surgeon would take my old heart out and give me a new one. Sounds like a simple and obvious decision, but really it was the hardest decision I have EVER had to make.
Stephanie with her family

Stephanie with her family

I needed a new heart, but that meant that someone would have to die for me to get another chance at life. All I could think about was the family. How would they be able to give such a great gift at a time when they are grieving and trying to figure out how to say goodbye to their loved one? It was hard, but with prayer, guidance and education I was finally able to find peace in knowing that yes, someone would die, but in their death they were giving the greatest gift anyone could give…LIFE! With a heart transplant, I would be able to live a new life. I would be able to raise my two beautiful children together with my loving husband. And, I would be able to be here today to ask you to be an organ donor.
On Thursday, April 2 I was part of our flag raising ceremony at Tri-County Health Care in honor of organ, eye and tissue donors. It was such a privilege and honor to share my story that morning. I hope my story reminds everyone that we all have that ability to help others. I invite you to check the box and let your intentions be known. You can check the box knowing that at a time when you are no longer able to be here on this earth, someone else can have a chance to enjoy it a little longer. What a great gift!

For more information about organ, eye and tissue donation and how you can become a donor, go to DonateLife.net.
About the Author:
Stephanie Larson, RN, is the Tri-County Health Care Hospital Epic Optimizer. Her job includes managing the Electronic Medical Record for Tri-County. She has been an asset in this role for approximately seven months. Stephanie is also an RN and has been with the organization in a patient care capacity striving for excellent patient care since 2006. During her tenure, Stephanie has worked in many areas including surgery and as a med/surg nurse. Stephanie received her heart transplant on September 16, 2012 and has been an advocate for Donate Life, Go Red for Women and many other organizations since her Sudden Cardiac Arrest on October 22, 2011.