ITASCA, Ill., Oct. 21, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network honored 15 individuals, hospitals and health systems for outstanding achievement in addressing the critical need for organ and tissue donation in 2019 by presenting each with a Lifesaving Partners Award at a special recognition ceremony held on Friday, Oct. 18, at the Hyatt Lodge at McDonald's Campus in Oak Brook, Ill.
"Our Lifesaving Partners Awards honor the 'best of the best' in organ and tissue donation — those people who and organizations that have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help make donation happen," said Kevin Cmunt, Gift of Hope's President/CEO. "These are dedicated people and organizations that set the standard — and so often surpass it — in making donation possible. Through their selfless work, we give hope and life to those in need of lifesaving organ and tissue transplants."
The Lifesaving Partners Award was established by Gift of Hope in 2001 to acknowledge the vital role its partners play in helping the organization realize its vision: that every opportunity for organ and tissue donation is successful. Over the past 18 years, the organization has awarded the Lifesaving Partners distinction to more than 270 individuals and organizations. Award recipients were nominated by Gift of Hope staff and selected by a review committee from Gift of Hope.
Here are Gift of Hope's 2019 Lifesaving Partners Award honorees:
Averey Anderson, Donor Niece, Machesney Park, Ill.
11-year old Averey Anderson was only two and too young to understand the importance of her uncle, Brent Hubley, becoming an organ donor. Now, she is an avid and active advocate for donation. The remarkable sixth grader raises funds for Gift of Hope, educates students at her school about organ and tissue donation and organizes special events to honor and keep her Uncle Brent's memory and legacy alive. Averey is the youngest person to receive a Lifesaving Partner Award.
Community Hospital Designated Requesters, Community Hospital, Munster, Ind.
Approaching families to discuss donation can be difficult and is a critical part of the donation process. The designated requesters at Community Hospital are committed to offering the donation opportunity to grieving families and to saving lives through the gift of donation. Having designated requesters at the hospital supporting families allows Gift of Hope to, in a timely manner, properly evaluate if a family is ready to discuss end-of-life care, including funeral home decisions and the opportunity for organ and tissue donation.
Des Plaines Fire Department, Des Plaines, Ill.
Paul Miller, a Des Plaines, Ill., firefighter, had a fatal accident in April 2019. His devastated family honored his generous spirit and his decision to become an organ and tissue donor. In an outstanding show of support to the family and solidarity toward their fallen brother, several members of the Des Plaines Fire Department stepped into action to honor Paul and his family during Paul's donation and funeral services. Hundreds of firefighters stood watch night and day at the hospital while all efforts were made to save his life. The Des Plaines Fire Department went above and beyond to honor its brother and his family, and Gift of Hope is privileged to award it a 2019 Lifesaving Partners Award.
Michelle Harris, 8th Ward Alderman, Chicago
This year, Alderman Michelle Harris championed Gift of Hope's endeavor to relocate its Chicago office to the Chatham community. Michelle has worked with the previous and current city of Chicago administration to place Gift of Hope's Chatham office project at the forefront of important decision-making conversations. She has also given her full support to Gift of Hope's plans to develop a health care training center to help create much-needed job opportunities for youth in marginalized communities like Chatham. For her dedication and commitment to Gift of Hope and its mission and strengthening the future of Chicago's youth, Alderman Harris is a deserving and highly valued 2019 Lifesaving Partner.
Jen Hillgoth, Detective, Aurora Police Department, Aurora, Ill. and Greg Sams, Illinois Assistant State's Attorney, St. Charles, Ill.
In spring 2019, Aurora Detective Jen Hillgoth and Illinois Assistant State's Attorney Greg Sams went above and beyond to assist Gift of Hope with a child abuse-related donation case and, by doing so, were instrumental in helping to save the lives of three children. They helped bring light to a sad and dark situation and went above and beyond to transform an unspeakable tragedy into life and hope for a grieving family and three other families in desperate need.
The Rev. Richard James, Senior Staff Chaplain, Mission & Spiritual Care, Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn, Ill.
As Senior Staff Chaplain at Advocate Christ Medical Center, The Rev. Richard James is a true donation advocate and partner in and outside of the hospital. He recently shared his expertise and best practices with a larger audience as a speaker at Gift of Hope's 2019 Chicago Organ Summit. He gives 100 percent of himself 100 percent of the time and advocates for donation both quietly behind the scenes and on the frontlines when supporting families through the donation conversation. Richard is a true 2019 Lifesaving Partner.
Connie Nolan, Patient Care Manager, Critical Care, AMITA Health St. Joseph Medical Center, Joliet, Ill.
Connie Nolan is a true champion for organ and tissue donation and is a valued member of the Donation Committee at AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center. She constantly goes above and beyond, taking responsibility for updating the medical center's donation policies and procedures and working hard to ensure that every staff member is aware of the educational opportunities that Gift of Hope offers.
OSF Brain Death Simulation Workshop Planning Committee, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Peoria Ill.
Since the OSF Brain Death Simulation Workshop Planning Committee's inception in 2016, its members have worked diligently to design a curriculum for physicians with strategic and measurable learning objectives, goals and outcomes. Over the past three years, the committee has modified the curriculum and agenda for each workshop, allowing Gift of Hope to offer different workshops to advanced practice providers and enhance the learner experience through new and advanced methods of simulated learning.
Riverside Medical Center, Kankakee, Ill.
Riverside Medical Center consistently demonstrates its commitment to donation, caring for donor families and honoring their loved ones' donation gifts. The medical center started a donor flag-raising program to honor all families who say yes to donation. Riverside Medical Center also started a new initiative to change the colors of the medical center's spotlights located outside of the building by the Kankakee River to purple and green when a family says yes to donation.
Suzie Sturm Ambassador Leader, Gift of Hope Peoria Ambassadors for Hope Volunteer Chapter, Peoria, Ill.
Suzie Sturm is a liver transplant recipient and leader of the Peoria Chapter of Gift of Hope's Ambassadors for Hope volunteer corps. Suzie also serves on the Peoria Lifesaving Leaders Advisory Group and is always willing to assist with the efforts of the group to increase awareness of the importance and significance of organ and tissue donation. The lasting impact of her commitment to helping Gift of Hope achieve its mission and realize its vision is beyond measure.
Regina Waldroup, Reporter, NBC 5 Chicago – WMAQ-TV
Whether she is serving as the emcee for Gift of Hope's Chicago Organ Summit or reporting on an organ or tissue donation story in the community, NBC 5 Chicago reporter Regina Waldroup makes an authentic and positive connection with donor families and helps honor stories of donors through her expert reporting. For going above and beyond for others in their time of need, for the extraordinary compassion she shows Gift of Hope's donor families and for her continual support of organ and tissue donation, Regina is well deserving of a Lifesaving Partners Award.
Katie Wilson, Funeral Director, Butler Funeral Home & Cremation Tribute Center, Springfield, Ill.
Many potential donor families face a common concern regarding organ and tissue donation — that it may interfere with their loved one's funeral arrangements. Katie Wilson consistently demonstrates her support of organ and tissue donation by reminding grieving families that organ and tissue donors are treated with great dignity and respect. This eases their concerns and makes a difference in a family's decision about whether to authorize donation.
Stephanie Yohannan and the Neuroscience ICU, Unit Director/Nursing Staff, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago
Under the leadership of Unit Director Stephanie Yohannan, the nurses in the Neuroscience ICU at Rush University Medical Center go above and beyond day after day to collaborate with Gift of Hope to offer the donation opportunity to as many families as possible. These nurses provide the highest level of care for their patients and are consistently proactive in identifying potential donors. They are engaged, conscientious and skilled at supporting concerned and devastated families while facilitating communication between Gift of Hope and treatment teams.
SOURCE Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network