The last full measure of devotion
October 9, 2018 8:56 PM   Subscribe

As life ends for one person, it is just beginning for someone else. That is the bittersweet reality of organ donation, and the staff and care givers at St. Luke’s Meridian have found a way to honor that process with something they call the “walk of respect.”
posted by Johnny Wallflower (24 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
A beautiful idea.
posted by greermahoney at 9:44 PM on October 9




Well this reminds me I needed to sign the back of my health insurance card to be an organ donor! (How-to here for residents of Japan)
Thank you!
posted by sacchan at 12:00 AM on October 10


Really beautiful.
posted by pril at 4:50 AM on October 10


Much respect. It is lovely to see that the family agreed to share this video with us in their time of grief; more so, the faces of the hospital staff show this gesture to be deeply moving.
posted by Schadenfreude at 5:24 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]


They did something similar for my dad when he died inside a VA hospital. Played taps over the intercom as they moved his flag-draped gurney to the morgue. It was intensely moving and we were deeply grateful for the show of respect and compassion. It's an excellent thing that the same level of respect is being shown to organ donors, who deserve it.
posted by rocket at 6:20 AM on October 10 [4 favorites]


My makeup is on point today because I'm covering for someone in a more visitor-facing role than my usual work. Which is to say: this has got me ducking behind the monitor and dabbing frantically at my eyes in an effort to prevent teary smudging. Really lovely.
posted by jurymast at 6:33 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]


That is lovely.
posted by ChrisR at 6:40 AM on October 10


Tears are closer to the surface these days. Fortunately, I'm working at home so I can sit here and bawl unabashedly. That is a wonderful ritual. I think quiet moments of reflection like these are so important.
posted by agatha_magatha at 6:52 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]


This is very nice to see and I'm sure it's a great comfort for the family.

Can somebody explain this from the article: "St. Luke’s Meridian began accepting organ donors in 2014 and have had five donors since that time." Are there hospitals that won't take organs? That seems odd. Or did they just only do simple things at that hospital before that just didn't end with people on respirators? And five in 4 years seems like so few. I mean maybe nobody really dies there, which would be nice? Why is it so low and why weren't they taking organ donations before? How many hospitals don't take donations and how many organs are likely lost as a result?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:14 AM on October 10


How powerful.
Are those patients and relatives in the hall alongside professionals?
posted by doctornemo at 8:26 AM on October 10


Naw, I just got a speck of dust caught in my eye...
posted by PhineasGage at 9:55 AM on October 10


Can somebody explain this from the article: "St. Luke’s Meridian began accepting organ donors in 2014 and have had five donors since that time." Are there hospitals that won't take organs? That seems odd. Or did they just only do simple things at that hospital before that just didn't end with people on respirators? And five in 4 years seems like so few. I mean maybe nobody really dies there, which would be nice? Why is it so low and why weren't they taking organ donations before? How many hospitals don't take donations and how many organs are likely lost as a result?

I can't speak to your full question, but Meridian is less than 15 miles from Boise, so my guess is that most organ donors were/are transferred to St Luke's larger flagship hospital there.
posted by bassooner at 10:27 AM on October 10


"St. Luke’s Meridian began accepting organ donors in 2014 and have had five donors since that time." Are there hospitals that won't take organs? That seems odd. Or did they just only do simple things at that hospital before that just didn't end with people on respirators? And five in 4 years seems like so few. I mean maybe nobody really dies there, which would be nice? Why is it so low and why weren't they taking organ donations before? How many hospitals don't take donations and how many organs are likely lost as a result?

I assumed, due to the whole 'walk' being a hospital bed instead of a IglooTM cooler, that this meant they accepted donors who were, well, still equipped with beating hearts but with a prognosis that indicated it was time to harvest organs for folks in need.

That was a hard comment to compose and I may well be using unkind terminology or altogether wrong so, forgive me and correct away if I'm off base.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:28 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]


Goodness, those tears came on faster than I was expecting. Glad I got my major project out of the way early today.
posted by endotoxin at 11:00 AM on October 10


When a hospital does not accept a certain medical category of patient it is usually because they are not equipped to. Thus trauma patients go to Lakeshore and pediatric patients go to Children's.

I have (had?) cancer. One of the worst things about getting cancer was being stricken from the organ donors' list. (Chemo was up there too and so was telling my sisters.) I had been on this list since I was eighteen or nineteen, and had to go get paperwork to sign in order to get on the list. I take some comfort in knowing that my corneas should still be donatable and that I could be used as a training cadaver. But both of those things are much less important contributions than it would be to donate my kidneys, tissue from my joints and other life changing or life saving donations.

Would anyone here who has not signed up to be an organ donor be willing to sign up now to replace me? I would be very grateful.
posted by Jane the Brown at 12:00 PM on October 10 [5 favorites]


This reminds me of a blog post by a funeral director about how some nursing homes have instituted what they call a front door policy when a resident has died and their body needs to be transported.
posted by Lexica at 12:14 PM on October 10 [3 favorites]


This is powerful.
posted by MissySedai at 12:19 PM on October 10


Jane the Brown: Cancer survivors can't donate organs? Ever?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:35 PM on October 10


Can somebody explain this from the article: "St. Luke’s Meridian began accepting organ donors in 2014 and have had five donors since that time." Are there hospitals that won't take organs? That seems odd. Or did they just only do simple things at that hospital before that just didn't end with people on respirators? And five in 4 years seems like so few. I mean maybe nobody really dies there, which would be nice? Why is it so low and why weren't they taking organ donations before? How many hospitals don't take donations and how many organs are likely lost as a result?

I can't speak to your full question, but Meridian is less than 15 miles from Boise, so my guess is that most organ donors were/are transferred to St Luke's larger flagship hospital there.


I worked at the main one in Boise for awhile, and yes, the Meridian branch is smaller. St. Luke's Boise is physically surrounded by other affiliates like Mountain States Tumor Institute, whereas the Meridian hospital is not on a larger medical campus. However, the city of Meridian has grown quite a bit in the last 20 years, as more people move out of Boise proper looking for affordable housing. I believe that this part of the article highlights that St. Luke's Meridian is now able to provide much more extensive care than when they opened in the mid-90s.
posted by Knowyournuts at 12:47 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


Jane the Brown: Cancer survivors can't donate organs? Ever?
posted by If only I had a penguin


If you transplant organs from someone who had cancer you could also transplant the cancer cells and cause cancer in the recipient. Cancer is therefore infectious. Like this unfortunate case You can never be certain that you are cured of cancer. That's why they use the term going into remission in preference to the term cured. Many cancers recur. Breast cancer is one that usually comes back given enough time, although many breast cancer survivors die of something else because it takes so long to come back. That's the kind that I have. Cancer can even spread from mother to fetus, or from fetus to mother. Drugs that recipients take to prevent rejection of the donor tissue also make it easier for the cancer to survive in the new person.

There are some tissues where the cancer cells cannot embed, and the corneas which are transparent and don't have the same circulation system as other parts of the body is one, so a previous cancer patient can donate corneas. I'm not sure if they generally are willing to harvest them or not.
posted by Jane the Brown at 1:21 PM on October 10 [3 favorites]


More on post-cancer donation from the American Cancer Society.

If it's been many years since your cancer was active, you may be still able to donate, depending on the type of cancer. (My uncle, a cancer survivor, was denied as a live donor for me not because of his cancer history, but because of a specific medically necessary heart medication he is taking.)

Anyone who even considers donating is a pure hero.
posted by mochapickle at 1:47 PM on October 10


Powerful.

Organ donation, the actual procurement part of the practice, weirds me out. No one really talks about the details of it in the medical community outside the transplant harvesting team. My brother in law is a transplant surgeon and he’ll get the call in the middle of the night. The team jumps on a private plane the university medical center maintains at the ready and they’ll fly out to some remote community hospital and then...? He doesn’t like to talk about it. Presumably they physically take the organs out in ascending order of importance with the heart and lungs last. Even though brain death is something I know and understand, that moment when you sever the aorta and stop the heart must be a serious mindfuck.

I had a patient die this week. A young guy who had a big brain bleed. I was called off the case when we decided to withdraw care with the family at his side. I had to inform his counselor today about what had happened and looked back in the electronic record just to verify that he had in fact passed. His death certificate was signed with date of death October 6 5 pm. But the hospital notes continue for three more days documenting vital signs, ventilator settings, urine output, etc, his body kept alive for three more days while the harvest team was assembled.

Organ donation is beautiful but is associated with heavy drama and emotion and it just leaves me feeling extremely weird emotionally. I think putting this out in the open is a good thing and it is as I said above, very powerful.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:04 PM on October 10 [3 favorites]


There is a very large part in Stiff by Mary Roach where she talks about the process of organ donation. She describes it a lot more like wheeling a coma patient around. I think that doing a walk of respect is something that's really wonderful.
posted by stoneegg21 at 8:42 PM on October 11


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