This week, we’re highlighting Midwest Transplant Network’s Donor Family Support program — made up of caring staff members who communicate with and provide care for donor families after their loved one’s donation. In this first post, we hear from Donation Communications Coordinators Jessica Cleary and Lindy Maska.
Briefly describe what Donation Communications Coordinators do.
We coordinate follow-up with all our organ, eye and tissue donor families to provide information about the gifts their loved one was able to donate. We also coordinate follow-up with the clinical staff involved in the donation so that they can see the impact their work has on saving and improving lives. After the initial donation, we provide ongoing support to donor families as we continue to remember and appreciate their loved one’s legacy of providing hope and life to others.
How many letters do you send out to families each month? To transplant centers? To donor hospitals?
There is a lot of variation in the number of letters sent out weekly, but very roughly:
- We send about 170 tissue and organ outcome letters out to families each month.
- We send around 800 follow-up letters each month to families three months, six months, one year and two years after their loved one’s donation.
- We send about 750 letters to donor hospitals per month.
How do Donation Communications Coordinators work with other members of the Donor Family Support Program to provide ongoing support for donor families?
We help with the planning and execution of events for our donor families as well as work with the Donor Family Services Coordinators to ensure families receive any additional support they may need, from donor hero bracelets to grief resources.
What is the one thing you’d want to tell someone who knows nothing about your work?
For many families, knowing who their loved one was able to help through donation provides a great deal of hope in a difficult time as they realize that their loved one’s legacy lives on.
What are some typical degrees and/or career paths staff members pursue before joining the Donor Family Support Program?
There is really no typical degree staff members pursue before joining the Donor Family Support Program. The most important quality of someone joining our department is a desire to help others through their grief journey.
Why should people say “yes” to organ, eye and tissue donation?
The opportunity to help others through donation is more unique than many people realize; not every person who says “yes” will necessarily be a donor. However, by saying “yes,” you provide hope to the thousands of people who are awaiting transplant.