Tag Archive for: community partner

MTN Community Spotlight: Imagine the impact of a generous donation

A middle school multipurpose room with a performance stage. Rows of black stackable chairs with slips of purple paper to mark seat numbers for the ticketed show. Long tables filled with brightly wrapped candy, sweet treats and the smell of spun sugar from a cotton candy machine complement the anticipation.

It’s opening night.

The lights dim.

The curtain rises.

The show begins.

“Come with me, and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination. Take a look and you’ll see into your imagination.” ~ Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

 

Students and families at Harmony Middle School in the Blue Valley School District raised $2,856 from their spring musical, “Willy Wonka,” and donated the ticket sales to Midwest Transplant Network in honor of a donor hero family.

Annually, the student cast gets to nominate a charity. Students give a quick speech about an organization that’s had an impact on them, and the cast votes to choose “the most deserving.” David Davis, theater director at Harmony Middle School, said this is the 15th year of the benefit performance.

Five people standing center stage in front of a curtain. Fourth person from the left is holding a microphone and reading from a sheet of paper.

The Dirks family and Midwest Transplant Network staff are center stage during intermission at Harmony Middle School in the Blue Valley School District.

This year, students Belle and Beau Dirks successfully advocated for MTN with their personal story. Their father, Josh Dirks, passed away in November 2021 and became an organ donor hero by way of his heart.

During intermission, the Dirks family took center stage – Belle and Beau, mom Tiffany, and sister Ella. Belle shared their organ donation journey from written remarks while Beau held a large, framed photo of their dad. Their grandparents, younger sister and family friends were in the audience, beaming with pride and emotion.

“…The day he went to heaven was the hardest day of my life. We were in his hospital room when they told us that he wasn’t coming home. There were so many people in the room, but I remember one lady, Ms. Gretchen, from Midwest Transplant Network. She hugged all of us and told us that it was going to be ok.

“…She told us what it means to be a donor, how important his decision was, and how he would be able to help someone else continue to live. Then, she laid a blanket on him that had the word HERO printed on it.”

Belle shared more of their story, then closed with a clear call to action:

“I know it is a difficult decision to become an organ donor, but I encourage you to sign up. Their motto is GIVE HOPE, SHARE LIFE — and that is what you do when you sign up to be an organ donor.

“You never know, you just might become a HERO in someone else’s story – Just like my daddy did!!”

The audience applauded.

The lights dimmed.

Five people are center stage during intermission at a school musical, posing for a photo.

The Dirks family and MTN staff after presenting a contribution to Midwest Transplant Network. From left to right: Tiffany Dirks, mom; Nichole Asquith, MTN; Beau holds a photo of Josh Dirks, father and donor hero; Belle and Ella Dirks.

And the show went on.

Midwest Transplant Network is appreciative to the students, families, teachers and staff of Harmony Middle School and their generous contribution to support organ, eye and tissue donation, and MTN is humbled to be a part of the Dirks family organ donation journey.

Please learn more about what it means to become a registered organ donor at mwtn.org.

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Partner Spotlight — Lisa Miller, Jackson County, Kansas, Treasurer’s Office

Midwest Transplant Network partners with licensing, treasury and Department of Revenue offices in Kansas and western Missouri to grow the organ, eye and tissue donor registry. We spoke with Lisa Miller, Deputy Treasurer of the Jackson County, Kansas, Treasurer’s Office about why donation is so important to her.

Jackson County, Kansas Deputy Treasurer Lisa Miller

Jackson County, Kansas, Deputy Treasurer Lisa Miller

How does your specific office help inform and educate patrons on the importance of joining the donor registry?

We display all of the items that are provided by MTN and also participate in the promotions for National Donate Life Month and National DMV Appreciation Month with a display in our office.

We have in the past had our pictures of our displays in the local newspaper.

Why do you feel your office’s efforts to promote the need for organ, eye and tissue donors are so important?

Our office has a personal connection to organ donation. We have two employees with relatives who are recipients of organ donation and one employee who is a living donor.

Tell us about your connection to organ, eye and tissue donation.

In April 2004, my husband became ill and ended up in the hospital with an infection. After many doctor’s appointments and several years later, he ended up in the hospital and was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. Our belief is that the infection had attacked his heart. His cardiologist referred us to the Saint Luke’s transplant program. After spending the first half of 2014 in and out of the hospital, he was finally added to the transplant waitlist in July. He entered the hospital in October and received his heart in December. Since, he has been able to see two of his children get married and is enjoying his four grandchildren and hunting with his sons.

What is the biggest misconception you hear about donation in your personal and/or professional life?

That the medical professionals will not provide the care needed to save a life if they know that the individual is a donor.

If there is one thing you would want to share with others about the importance of joining the donor registry, what would it be?

It truly is a gift of life.

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Partner Spotlight — Linda Gerhardt, Jackson County, Kansas, Treasurer’s Office

As National DMV Appreciation Month comes to a close, Jackson County, Kansas, Treasurer Linda Gerhardt told us why organ, eye and tissue donation is personal to her.

Jackson County, Kansas, Treasurer Linda Gerhardt

Living donor and Jackson County, Kansas, Treasurer Linda Gerhardt

Mine is the story of a living kidney donor. My niece was diagnosed with diabetes when she was in high school. Her mother was diabetic, so she had inherited it. A few years after my niece got out of high school, she was continually sick and in and out of the hospital. She was on dialysis, and she did the dialysis at home at night and went to work during the day. She was a very hardworking, self-supporting young woman. The day came that she was told she needed a kidney transplant. She was put on the transplant waitlist and was told that could take quite a while.

As time went on, my niece became sicker; she was in and out of the hospital, and we worried she might not receive a kidney in time. One day I was at my mother’s, and she said to me, “If something were to happen to me, could Melody get one of my kidneys?” It suddenly opened my eyes. I told my sister of the conversation, and she said that she herself had asked the doctor about donating, and they had told her no because of a medical condition. I had never even given it a thought as a possibility. I was 39 years old and married with two boys. We were her dad’s sisters, so there was a chance we could match. Her parents were both deceased, and none of her brothers or sisters matched or for health reasons couldn’t donate. I suddenly realized this was something I could do.

I then started the process. I was an 80% match to Melody, and they told me that her dad and I probably would have been a perfect match. I had never been a person to go to the doctor unless I had to (kind of like not wanting to go to the dentist), but at the point of finding out I could help her, it was like God was leading my way. I had to monitor my blood pressure; I would go to the health department so they could record it for me. It would be high, and the nurse would say, “Let’s just visit for a while,” and then it would be fine. I passed all the tests.

We checked in at The University of Kansas Medical Center to do the surgery, and preliminary tests showed my niece had an infection, so it was put off for a month. The next time, we were good to go. My priest at church had announced to the congregation to pray for me and gave me a special blessing. It was all like it was meant to be.

On June 25, 2023, we marked 25 years since the transplant. I received the prettiest bouquet of flowers from her. Being an organ donor was never something I had considered, but knowing I could possibly save her life was such a good feeling. I never saw a bill for anything; it all went through my niece’s insurance.

When I was an organ donor, I did not work in the treasurer’s/driver’s license office. Now, I do, and I am honored to help inform people about and promote organ donation. It is amazing how surrounded we have been by organ donation in the courthouse. We’ve had a coworker’s husband receive a heart transplant and a coworker’s brother receive a kidney/pancreas transplant. And in the Register of Deeds office, a worker’s granddaughter received a lung transplant. On the third floor of the courthouse, a judge received a heart transplant, and a past employee’s husband received a kidney from his daughter. In some of these cases, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be here today if not for others’ generous donations.

We always participate in whatever we can to promote organ donation at our office. No one knows when they might be the next one to have a loved one suffering from an illness they never expected, whose life depends on your decision or someone else’s. If you have ever been faced with someone you know needing an organ transplant, you would know how important it is to be on the donor registry. Please think about organ donation.

Our thanks to Linda Gerhardt for writing this guest blog post.

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Partner Spotlight — Stefanie Dotson, Maryville Licensing Bureau

In honor of National DMV Appreciation Month, we asked Assistant Manager Stefanie Dotson of the Maryville (Missouri) Licensing Bureau about her important role in the donation process. She also shared her personal ties to organ, eye and tissue donation in this Q&A.

Stefanie Dotson with her nephew, donor hero Aiden Jones

Maryville Licensing Bureau Assistant Manager Stefanie Dotson (left) with her nephew, donor hero Aiden

Q: Tell us a bit about the role the DMV plays in organ, eye and tissue donation.

A: As a DMV worker, any time I issue a permit or driver’s license, we ask if they would like to be an organ, eye and tissue donor. I have found that many people are unaware of the program and have no knowledge of the benefits. At that time, I am able to inform them with the facts and use my personal experiences so they can make the right decision for them.

 

Q: Tell us about your connection to organ, eye and/or tissue donation.

A: I have several connections to the organ, eye and tissue donation program. I have a friend who has received two kidneys, and I’m happy to report she’s doing great. My mother-in-law had three kinds of cancer, and my husband was still able to donate her corneas when she passed. The one most dear to my heart is my organ donor hero nephew. He was 16 years old when tragedy struck, and we found ourselves devastated by the news he would not be going home with us. I looked at my sister and said, “You know what the next question is, right?” She said, “No, what?” I said, “Do you want to donate his organs?” She took a bit to talk it over and decided she would. The honor walk was amazing. My sister has since received letters from some of the recipients, which have been amazing to read.

 

Q: How does your specific office help inform and educate patrons on the importance of joining the donor registry?

A: Our office always tries to find fun ways to open up the conversation about being a donor. We like to participate in any decorating contests that are available, we have different displays with facts about being a donor and we include the people we know are recipients or have become a donor hero in our display. Around the holidays, we decorate a tree with the donation colors and add bracelets for the public.

 

Q: Why do you feel your office’s efforts to promote the need for organ, eye and tissue donors are so important?

A: I feel it is important to inform people of the facts about being a donor. There are lots of misconceptions out there about the details that scare people away. When people are informed with facts, it’s easier for them to make the decision to be an organ donor.

 

Q: What is the biggest misconception you hear about donation that you hear in your personal and/or professional life?

A: The biggest misconception I hear is: “I was told I can’t donate my organs by this doctor because of this.”

My mother-in-law’s corneas were still used even though she had three different cancers.

 

Q: If there is one thing you’d want to share with others about the importance of joining the donor registry, what would it be?

A: I just would like people to realize how life-changing it is to be a recipient of an organ. Your loved one gets to live on and is celebrated by people you never knew existed because they are a part of your loved one, with them every day.

Community Partner Feature – St. James United Methodist Church

When communities of faith partner with us to promote the gift of life offered through organ, eye and tissue donation, a beautiful message emerges. As our annual observance of National Donor Sabbath concludes, hear from St. James United Methodist Church’s Dr. Yvette Richards, D.Min., on her work within her community and why she is so passionate about partnering with Midwest Transplant Network.

Community Partner Feature – Hoefer Welker

When Midwest Transplant Network began planning for the creation of its Donor Care and Surgical Recovery Unit, Hoefer Welker jumped at the chance to design a facility that would honor MTN’s mission to save and enhance lives with dignity and compassion. In this video blog feature, listen to Hoefer Welker’s Diamond Bronson, Associate Vice President and Project Manager, and Patrick McCurdy, Partner and Healthcare Practice Leader, discuss their work and what inspired them in partnering with MTN.