Doctors Medical Center Chaplain Speaks on National Donate Life MonthApr 25, 2022
Doctors Medical Center is proud to honor National Donate Life Month, a month to celebrate those who have received transplants, to recognize those who continue to wait, to honor donors and donor families and to thank registered donors for giving hope. This April, we want to stop and take a moment to remember the ongoing need for more people to register to be organ and tissue donors.
Currently there are more than 100,000 people waiting for an organ transplant in the United States, with more than 22,000 in California alone. Due to the lack of organ donors, 22 people die every day waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. One donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and another 75 others through tissue donation. Registering as a donor can be done at DonateLife.net.
Doctors Medical Center Chaplain Jeremy Brown recently spoke with KCRA about organ donation from a chaplain’s perspective. You can view the interview in the video player above.
Jeremy also answers some questions about organ donation below:
As the hospital chaplain at Doctors Medical Center, what role do you play when a family is dealing with organ donation for their loved one?
Regardless of the situation, my focus is to provide spiritual care in whatever way is most meaningful and supportive of our patients and their families. As a member of the care team here at Doctors Medical Center, I try to get involved in providing support as early as possible in a patient’s hospitalization. This means that I am often introduced to patients and their families in our Emergency Department or one of our Intensive Care Units. If it is determined a patient will be an organ donor, I continue to spend time alongside their family – collaborating with team members from Donor Network West, until the patient is taken into surgery and their family leaves the hospital. I make it a point to serve as a supportive presence all throughout this extremely difficult journey for members of our community.
How do you comfort families who are going through such a heartbreaking situation?
One foundational pillar of my role as a Chaplain is recognizing I can’t take away the heartache people sometimes experience in the hospital. However, I can attempt to come alongside them as a human being and offer genuine compassion and simple kindness. The people we care for, our community members, are our neighbors and they often just want to know they aren’t alone. They want someone to talk to so they can be heard. Or, they want someone to sit in silence with them as they try to process the realities of what they are facing. As much as possible, I try to encourage donor families to remember their loved one’s story is not over when the donation process is completed. In so many countless ways, a patient’s story continues on as their gifts of life live on in other people. While that perspective certainly doesn’t take away the heartbreak, it does give families some comfort to know there is some amount of redemption amidst such a tragedy.
What would you tell people who are considering registering as an organ donor?
I would simply say, do it! It took some time for me personally to get to a place where I became an organ donor. But after seeing firsthand the impact of this kind of generosity and love for others, I know it is such a beautiful thing. As a person of faith in God, I am always struck by how organ donation points to God’s redeeming work in our broken world. He can take tragedy and loss and use it for good. Donor families may not always see the outcome of their loved one’s donations, but they can be confident lives have been changed for the better.
Do all major faiths support organ and tissue donation?
Yes. While the decision to donate is a personal choice, I have found all major faith groups to be supportive of organ and tissue donation. It doesn’t take long to see so much division and discord in our world, but my involvement in caring for donors and their families reminds me that we are really not all that different from one another. We all have a heart. We all have lungs. We are all human and when we face issues of life and death, those lines of division tend to fade away and our common need for grace and compassion rises to the surface.