EDISON, N.J., Nov. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation (MTF) [www.mtf.org] announced today that Bethany Conkel of Dayton, Ohio, whose son, Amalya Nathaniel, (whose name means work of the Lord, given by the Lord) was a neonatal organ and tissue donor, will represent MTF on the Donate Life Float at the 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA.
In March 2012, Bethany and Eric Conkel learned that their unborn son had a terminal neural tube defect called anencephaly, which results in the failure of the brain, skull, and scalp to develop. Determined to make the most of their son's life and death, the Conkels decided to pursue organ and whole body donation. It was a difficult journey but, shortly before Bethany's scheduled delivery date, they learned that their son could donate his liver, pancreas and whole body. You can learn more about their journey here. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpx0fms5dws)
Life Connection of Ohio helped to facilitate Amalya's donation and, despite the lack of options for transplant due to his small size, his organs and tissues were placed with researchers through the International Institute for the Advancement of Medicine (IIAM) [www.iiam.org], a division of MTF. His donations went directly to medical researchers to advance studies in type 1 diabetes, train medical professionals and help improve emergency treatments for pediatric patients.
"For us, donation was able to add an extra layer of meaning to Amalya's brief 37 weeks in utero and 80 minutes alive in our arms," said Bethany Conkel. "Donation has truly brought us unexplainable peace, joy and healing. My husband and I have founded a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization called Purposeful Gift (www.purposefulgift.com) to help educate other families."
"We are delighted to sponsor Bethany Conkel and to support the Donate Life Float at the Tournament of Roses Parade. The Conkel family's story highlights the incredible gift of tissue and organ donation and the importance of the work done at IIAM and MTF," said Martha Anderson, Executive Vice-President, Donor Services.
The International Institute for the Advancement of Medicine (IIAM) works with researchers and medical education programs in the U.S. and abroad. According to Gina Dunne Smith, General Manager of IIAM, the experience with the Conkel family led IIAM to develop a neonatal donation program to support families of babies with terminal diagnoses who wish to contribute to medical advancement through organ and tissue donation. This program offers a unique service to researchers and to families whose babies will die from natural causes shortly after birth. To date IIAM has worked with over 40 families who have chosen neonatal donation and has placed 146 organs and tissues with researchers throughout the U.S.
About MTF: The Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Edison, NJ, is a national consortium comprised of leading organ procurement organizations, tissue recovery organizations and academic medical institutions. Since its inception in 1987, MTF has received tissue from more than 100,000 donors and distributed more than 6 million grafts for transplantation
ABOUT IIAM: The International Institute for the Advancement of Medicine (IIAM), founded in 1986, is one of the world's largest recovery networks for the acquisition of non-transplantable human organs and tissues for medical research, education and development. IIAM works with organ procurement organizations, tissue banks, hospitals and individual donors throughout the United States in offering donation of organs and tissues for research and education.
CONTACT: George Herrera, 732-661-3162, George_Herrera@mtf.org
SOURCE Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation