Midwest Transplant Network is a co-sponsor of the OneLegacy Donate Life Rose Parade® float, which will be featured in the 2024 Rose Parade®. The OneLegacy Donate Life float honors the memory of donor heroes from across the country, including Jayme Sue Louque of Olathe, Kansas, a 14-year-old organ, eye and tissue donor. The float features a floragraph portrait of Jayme Sue made of organic materials.
MTN chooses a staff member to travel with the donor family to the Rose Parade® and we want to take a moment to share the connection and invite you to watch the 2024 Rose Parade® on Jan. 1 at 8 a.m. PST/10 a.m. CST on ABC, NBC or Univision.
MTN Staff Spotlight…
Taylor Brookins, LCSW, Manager, Family Services
Taylor’s professional career as a medical social worker includes experience in hospice, in-patient palliative care, pediatric intensive care, and end-of-life care. She has a Master of Social Work from the University of Kansas and is a licensed clinical social worker. She joined Midwest Transplant Network in April 2021 as a Family Services Coordinator and transitioned to her current role in April 2022. Taylor will accompany Wendy and Bryan Louque and their family to the 2024 Rose Parade® in honor of their daughter, Jayme Sue, who became a donor hero at age 14.
Explain your job as if you’re talking to a stranger in Target.
“I’d explain what MTN does as a whole, and I’d say that I work with donor heroes and donor families, and we walk families through the process of organ and tissue transplantation.
“I usually explain that I used to go into different hospitals and worked directly with families, and now I’ve transitioned into a manager role, and I support Family Services Coordinators who work with donor families in the hospitals.”
Did you have any hesitation about accepting the opportunity to support the Louque family? Why or why not?
“No hesitation. I was really excited! It’s an honor and I’m thankful to get to go. I know how important this is for the family and it’s truly an honor.”
What’s your connection to the Louque family?
“The Louque family brought up donation very early on during Jayme Sue’s hospitalization. They’re a giving family. I was the Family Services Coordinator who met with the family and supported them during the donation process. That was November 2021. I couldn’t believe it’s been two years. It doesn’t feel like it.”
Tell us three things you’re looking forward to about the Rose Parade experience.
“Being around donor families at the Rose Parade; in the work we do, we see families on their worst day, and the parade is a way to see the families celebrating loved ones.
“I’m looking forward to going with the family to decorate and put the finishing touches on the parade float, and mostly, I’m looking forward to being able to honor Jayme Sue and her family.
“The Louques are a very deserving donor family. They’re so passionate about donation because they’ve experienced it on both sides. Wendy is a living donor, and Bryan is a two-time kidney recipient – one from his wife, and from a deceased donor.”
What’s your favorite holiday memory?
“We always celebrated Christmas at my great grandma’s house in Wyoming, and she lived in a log home that my family actually built. It’s the epitome of a Christmas home. My great grandma and uncle decorated it every Christmas. It was super cozy, and my brother and cousins…we always spent that time together.
“My favorite memory is that my uncle dressed up as Santa Claus – we didn’t know it was him at the time – and they made the sound of reindeer hooves on the roof, and we could see Santa’s legs dangling in the window as he was getting ready to go to the chimney. The next morning, when we woke up, Santa had taken pictures of him drinking milk and eating cookies and left us notes…just such a special memory to know the lengths my family took to make Christmas special for us.”
What’s your favorite holiday side dish and your least favorite – as in you will not eat it?
“My favorite is definitely mashed potatoes, but I do mix corn with my mashed potatoes, so it’s like a dual side dish. The side dish I won’t eat is stuffing. I just don’t like stuffing. I never have and I never eat it.”
What’s your most memorable gift from when you were a kid?
“Oh my gosh…I can’t remember a gift, but I remember the feeling of being at my great grandma’s with my cousins. My family would make so much food, and my great grandma would make iced sugar cookies that were my favorite. And there would be so many desserts and pies…that’s what I remember.”
What’s your motivation to keep doing the work you do every day?
“When you’re a medical social worker, your motivation is to make a difference and to help people. In the roles I’ve had, there is not a lot of hope. But at MTN, everyone who works here makes a difference every day and saves lives. We get to witness family selflessness, and we get to offer hope on someone’s worst day. This is the best place to work and it’s an honor to do what we do.”
Is there anything you’d like to share that could offer a different perspective about organ donation?
“Something that I learned from Drew [Toler] is that donation doesn’t take away a family’s grief, but it provides peace and comfort on their grief journey. When someone is able to become a donor hero, they live on through others, and that can be comforting to a family.”