Donate Life 2022: Kidneys and care

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Tri-County Health Care welcomed guests and donors to Donate Life 2022! Lois Miller, a Registered Nurse at Tri-County Health Care, organizes the event. The ceremony is the product of several months of organizing. Because of this, Lois takes great pride in the event and views it as a means of keeping organ donation in the minds of potential donors.

After a kickoff by Lois, LifeSource Representative Barb Nelson-Agnew took to the podium. She explained the importance of organ donation with the help of a special bee mascot. The bee danced and encouraged the crowd to sign up for organ donation. According to Nelson-Agnew, the bee represented the giving power of nature itself and was the perfect mascot to show how vital organ donation is. Cathy Dudley, a hospital liaison at Mayo Clinic, dawned the bee uniform. Tri-County Health Care was only one stop on her mission to get people to “bee a donor!”

The mascot was a fun aspect of Donate Life 2022

Dawn and Julia

This year’s ceremony included two speakers, Julia Snyder, a living organ donor, and Dawn Kemper, an organ donation recipient. The pair guided the small crowd through their personal journeys with organ donation.

Dawn Kemper participated in Donate Life 2022.

Dawn Kemper

In 2011, Dawn Kemper found out she suffered from polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disease that causes cysts to form on the kidneys. In 2014, she contracted a kidney infection that placed her on dialysis. She was able to recover from the infection and get off dialysis. However, her hope was short-lived. In 2016, after meeting with a nephrologist, Dawn learned she might need to be placed back on dialysis due to her declining kidney health. According to her doctor, she was at 6 percent kidney health. Dawn needed a new kidney and quick. She was eventually contacted for a kidney transplant, but that opportunity fell through. After an emotional journey to receive this kidney, she found out the kidney went to another recipient who required multiple organs. “God had different plans,” said Dawn.

Julia is a living organ donor, which means she is willing to donate organs or tissues while still living. During her tearful speech, she explained that she had never suffered from any health complications in her life. Julia changed after the death of a close friend who was also an avid believer in organ donation. This friend was always trying to get others to check the little organ donation box. This loss made Julia an advocate for the cause.

Kidney swap

Later on, after a failed attempt to donate to her nephew, Julia found the National Pair Exchange for organ donation. This system helps recipients pair with donors faster after experiencing compatibility issues. Through this system, Julia and Dawn met. The pair participated in a cross transplant with an unknown donor in Georgia. Essentially, Snyder wanted to donate a kidney directly to Kemper, but they were incompatible. After this, Snyder donated a kidney to the individual in Georgia and Kemper received a kidney from the compatible donor. This process is also known as a “kidney swap.”

Julia Snyder commented on her journey during Donate Life 2022.

Julia Snyder

Donate and live better

“The most amazing part was watching Dawn become healthy again,” remarked Julia. Furthermore, the pair shared the hope that others will consider organ donation. In conclusion, guests draped the Donate Life flag from a railing above, Drawing Donate Life 2022 to a close.

To learn more about Tri-County Health Care’s Garden of Hope or how to become an organ donor, please visit TCHC.org/patients-and-visitors/organ-donation.


The gift of life: Become an organ donor today

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April is National Donate Life Month and it reminds us that we all hold the power to help others in life and in death. Tri-County Health Care staff and several guests gathered at the Garden of Hope to raise the Donate Life flag. Every year, those affected by organ donations raise the flag to honor those that gave everything for the health of others. The ceremony and the following proceedings are designed to motivate others to give the gift of life.

Tri-County Health Care has taken a stand for everyone in need of organ and tissue donation. According to LifeSource, an organization dedicated to facilitating organ donation, Tri-County Health Care’s 13 donors have helped over 975 people in six years.

Sarah couldn't help but tear up during her emotional speech during the ceremony.

“Events like this get people’s minds thinking about donation and spur them to register to be donors,” said Barb Nelson, from LifeSource.

Remembering Cameron

Sarah Fisher spoke during the ceremony. She drove from Horace, North Dakota to dedicate a paver to her son, Cameron, who lost his life in a car accident. Cameron was an organ donor and was passionate about helping others. His family wanted to amplify his goodwill to persuade others to give the gift of life.

“Without LifeSource, this process of organ donation and the grief that a parent goes through when they lose a child would have been unbearable,” said Sarah in a tearful address during the ceremony.

Sarah lost her son during the summer of 2018. Her son’s passing was a personal tragedy but because Cameron was an organ donor, he was able to save the lives of many. His heart, kidney, liver, corneas, bone tissue, and ligaments were all donated. Altogether, his donations helped 72 people and his bone and ligaments continue to be used. This motivated Sarah to spread the word of her son’s generosity to save more people. She is currently trying to have a Garden of Hope constructed in Fargo.

Sarah and her husband dedicated a paver to their son Cameron. He passed away after a car accident and was an organ donor.

The list

“Every day, there’s people who join the waiting list and every day, there’s people that die because they didn’t get that life-saving organ.” Said Sarah.

Before the pandemic, Sarah explained that she was able to meet some of the donation recipients. Those individuals had been waiting for so long and were very near death. When they got the call about Cameron’s passing, everything changed. They were saved. Sarah emotionally recounted meeting them and their families; she was overwhelmed by the good her son had done.

“What the gift of life means to us is that Cameron’s death meant something,” said Sarah.

The random act of kindness rock

Sarah and her husband have a robust web presence dedicated to spreading their son’s story. The couple has been hiding special rocks emblazoned with the Donate Life logo in various places worldwide. The random act of kindness rocks encourages others to become organ donors while telling Cameron’s story. Anyone that finds it is supposed to put a little good into the world. If you find one, do something nice for someone else in remembrance of Cameron and his giving spirit.

One of these rocks has been hidden near the Garden of Hope. Take a stroll and find the special stone. When you find it, please follow the instructions included and put some positive energy into the world.

The random act of kindness rock has been distributed around the world.

 

 


Organ donors and remembrance: Donate Life 2021

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The gift of life

Each year, community members and Tri-County Health Care staff gather near the garden of life for a special flag-raising ceremony. It’s a special time to honor those who committed to helping others. Donate Life celebrates organ donors and the people saved by their kindness. The ceremony was inspired by the work of LifeSource, a non-profit organization devoted to helping with organ donations. They continue to be a driving force behind the ceremony held at Tri-County Health Care. LifeSource helps people primarily in the upper Midwest.

Lois Miller

Organ donors. Tri-County Health Care platinum award recognition

Tri-County Health Care was honored to receive platinum recognition in 2020 for its efforts to promote organ donation in the community. From left: Kim Aagard, Stephanie Larson, Lois Miller, Tom Pint, and Joel Beiswenger.

Key organizer and Tri-County Health Care employee, Lois Miller, plans the event and organizes speakers. She recently took time to reflect on the flag raising and its significance to the community. “Inspiration to do more to promote donation went up when our Tri-County family became personally affected.  A Tri-County staff member’s life was saved because of a stranger’s selfless gift,” said Lois.

Since then, several staff members have stepped up and became organ donors. According to Lois, this push for new organ donors coincided with a community increase in organ donors. This surge in selflessness prompted a group of Tri-County Health Care employees and community members to propose a memorial garden. “A garden represents life and hope and serves as an inspiration to others to consider organ and tissue donation,” explained Lois. She has observed the apprehension and joy associated with the topic and urges everyone to consider the lifesaving choice.

Event Details

The Donate Life flag-raising ceremony is set for Tuesday, April 6, at 9 a.m. The ceremony will begin with a welcome from Tri-County Health Care President & CEO Joel Beiswenger. Additionally, LifeSource representative Barb Nelson-Agnew will speak. Guest speaker Sarah Fisher plans to share her story and the two pavers will be dedicated. The ceremony will end with the flag-raising.Organ donors. Tri-County Health Care platinum award recognition

Sarah Fisher

The ceremony welcomes speakers that have experienced organ donation firsthand. This year, Sarah Fisher will join us to share her son’s story. His death and subsequent organ donation saved many lives. This experience made Sarah an advocate for organ and tissue donation. She is currently trying to get a Donate Life garden built in Fargo. Sarah has a paver in our garden honoring the giving spirit of her son.

A place in our garden

It is possible to purchase a paver to honor an organ donor. More information is available at Tri-County Health Care entrances and on our website. There will be a special sign-up event at the entrance of the hospital after the flag-raising.