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For the fifth consecutive year, Cook Children’s organ donation program received special recognition from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration.
Cook Children’s was selected as one of the Nation’s Organ Donation and Transplantation gold medal of honor winners during the Fifth Annual Medal of Honor Awards Ceremony on Sept. 30, at the Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine, Texas. The ceremony took place in conjunction with the Fifth Annual National Learning Congress.
Cook Children’s was the only hospital in Texas and one of two pediatric hospitals in the nation, along with St. Louis Children’s, to be named a Gold Medal Hospital.
Cook Children’s was the leader in its region by achieving 100 percent successful conversion of eligible donors to actual donors for three consecutive years. The national goal is 75 percent conversion rate.
Cook Children’s also achieved the national goal of 3.75 organs transplanted per donor and 10 percent of organ donors being recovered through donation after cardiac death.
Along with the organization taking the top prize, Cook Children’s Medical Center President Nancy Cychol was one of only 11 recipients from throughout the United States to be named a Regional Champion. Cychol was the Region 4 Regional Champion for Texas and Oklahoma.
As a Regional Champion, Cychol was recognized for making a difference and creating a positive impact on the field of organ, tissue and cornea donation and transplantation. Cychol is a strong advocate of organ donation. She speaks to several groups during the course of the year about why organ donation is important. This year she was the key note speaker at the Pediatric Summit in Chicago and addressed creating a culture of organ donation at the American College of Health Care Executives also in Chicago.
Cychol was honored for her leadership in helping Cook Children’s reach or exceed the national goals, as well as for her “dedication, energy and leadership” to “provide a direct and lasting benefit to donor families, people in need of transplantation and transplant recipients.”
The cause is a special one for Cychol. She is the mother of a child who donated his organs after his death.
“The death of a child is one of the toughest challenges a parent can face,” Cychol said. “For me, donation helped turn a tragic experience into a positive one – and something that has brought comfort to me and my family through the years.”
Pastoral Care Supervisor Steve Irwin, Ph.D., PICU Nurse Manager Laurie Patterson, RN, and Interim President of Cook Children’s Physician Network Britt Nelson, M.D, have led the organ donation program at Cook Children’s.
As the first free-standing children’s hospital in the state of Texas that does donation after cardiac death (DCD), Cook Children’s has embraced its important role of helping blaze a trail for organ donation at children’s hospitals, both regionally and nationally. Each donor can help up to eight people through organ donation and up to 50 people through tissue donation. Championing the benefits of donation allows Cook Children’s to reach and heal the lives of more patients.
The Cook Children’s values of giving and collaboration are at the heart of this program. Patterson says, “The community’s sense of giving makes it easier to ask, because the families are wanting to help someone else.” Each donor family is given the option to include their child’s name on the Organ Donor Walk of Honor wall, located in front of the Medical Center in the Prayer Garden. Patterson said, “The Organ Donor Wall is a touching way for the families to remember the good that was done with this selfless act and truly helps the families with the grieving process.”
“From the very beginning when a patient comes in, our entire staff is phenomenal at educating the family about all the medical aspects,” Irwin said. “So by the time the worst case scenario occurs, it doesn’t take much additional education to help them understand the decision they are being asked to make. We let them know and celebrate with them that on the very worst day of their life, they were able to make a decision to help someone else.”
The Annual Organ Donation and Transplantation National Learning Congress was started for the country’s top hospitals to share the best practices of their donor programs. Through this meeting, Cook Children’s is able to contribute to the dialogue and relate what works for us to our peers.
Irwin said, “It’s the little things. It’s the timing of the request. It’s placing emphasis on the family’s needs during the grieving process. It is all based on the relationship that is formed during the time we spend caring for their child. We seek to guide them toward a decision that will help them with grieving as well as helping other children, other families, other parents, and the community as a whole.”
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