Tag Archive for: organ donor

MTN logo

Midwest Transplant Network surpasses expectations to save and enhance lives in 2023

One organ donor can save eight lives; a tissue donor can enhance 100 lives.

In 2023, Midwest Transplant Network set a new level of achievement for the number of organs recovered for transplantation, organ donors, eye and tissue donors, and laboratory tests performed as part of organ, eye and tissue donation.

MTN, a not-for-profit organ procurement organization (OPO), achieved 988 lifesaving organs for transplantation. The gifts came from 363 donor heroes. MTN also recovered gifts of eye and tissue from 1,399 donors.

“What we achieved at Midwest Transplant Network in 2023 reflects the commitment of the staff who do the work every day to support organ donation and transplantation. The work is hard, and happens in countless ways, but we are all dedicated to the mission of enhancing and saving lives through organ, eye and tissue donation” said Jan Finn, RN, MSN, President & CEO, Midwest Transplant Network.

MTN’s award-winning histocompatibility lab performed 36,224 tests assessing blood work for potential matches for organ, tissue and bone marrow transplantation, as well as post-transplant monitoring.

“MTN’s professional laboratory staff performs thousands of tests in support of organ transplants for patients in our community, as well as patients across the country. Each year, the laboratory’s service grows as we continue to provide exceptional quality and expert consultation services 24/7 to transplant centers,” said Christina Bishop, MT(ASCP), Ph.D., F(ACHI), Chief of Laboratory Services.

 

An Upward Trend

MTN’s performance metric increases reflect a national upward trend for the organ transplant system.

The United Network for Organ Sharing reported that across the country, clinical workers performed more than 46,000 lifesaving transplants in 2023.

Although organ transplants are increasing nationally and locally, the waiting list grows. More than 100,000 people around the country need a lifesaving organ transplant — with approximately 460 of those people living in Kansas and 2,000 in Missouri.

2023: A Significant Year for Saving Lives
Through MTN, the generosity of donor heroes and their families touched the lives of people in need:

  • 363 donor heroes shared the gift of life, resulting in 988* lifesaving organ transplants.
    (*Excluding organs donated for research)
  • 1,399 cornea and tissue donor heroes saved and enhanced lives.
  • MTN’s lab performed 36,224 transplant-supporting tests ranging from blood counts, urinalysis, basic chemistry panels and more.
  • In its first full year of service, MTN’s Donor Recovery and Surgical Unit (DCU) cared for 114 donor hero patients resulting in 364 lifesaving transplants.

“The DCU allows us to continue specialized care for donor hero patients while maximizing their gifts of donation. The DCU also enables us to support our hospital partners by freeing up resources such as intensive care unit beds, operating rooms and medical staff needed to care for donor patients,” said Lori Markham, RN, MSN, CCRN, Vice President & Chief Clinical Officer.

At a Glance

Incorporated in 1973, Midwest Transplant Network facilitates organ, eye and tissue donation in partnership with hospitals and other professional partners to give hope and share life. MTN’s service area is the state of Kansas and western two-thirds of Missouri, with its central office located in Westwood, Kansas, and satellite offices in Wichita, Kansas, and Columbia and Joplin, Missouri. MTN commemorated 50 years of service in 2023.

 

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.

A headshot of Taylor Brookins.

MTN Staff Spotlight — Taylor Brookins

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…

A headshot of Taylor Brookins.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.”

MTN logo

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.

MTN logo

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.

MTN logo

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.

MTN logo

Celebrating One Year of a World-Class Donor Care and Surgical Recovery Unit

One year ago — Sept. 1, 2022 — Midwest Transplant Network (MTN) opened its new Donor Care and Surgical Recovery Unit (DCU) after years of careful planning, preparation and training on the processes and technology associated with an in-house facility. Since then, with support from many hospital, professional and community partners, we have cared for 131 donor patients[1] from 29 area hospitals in our world-class DCU. These donor heroes provided 415 lifesaving organs to those who desperately waited for a second chance.

The DCU features a seven-bed onsite intensive care unit, two state-of-the-art operating rooms, a CT scanner with technology to conference remotely with physicians, a specialty laboratory and a family support lounge for donor heroes’ loved ones to gather if desired. Patients who meet certain clinical criteria may be eligible to move to the DCU, where MTN staff members continue administering high-level critical care until surgical teams begin organ recovery.

“It’s hard to believe we have already been providing expert care to donor heroes in our DCU for a year,” said Lori Markham, RN, MSN, CCRN-K, CPTC, MTN Vice President & Chief Clinical Officer. “We had a vision to create a specialized facility in-house for many years, and seeing it come to fruition has been so powerful. I am incredibly proud of our team for all their hard work, and I am grateful for all our partners that have come together to support this new process that allows for better outcomes.”

Since the DCU opened, MTN has enabled more organs per donor to be transplanted than before, with the average number of organs transplanted per donor increasing from 3.1 pre-DCU to 3.35 post-DCU opening among the same type of donor characteristics when recovered in donor hospitals.

“We anticipated that the DCU would allow a focus solely on the process of organ donation and ultimately create better outcomes for transplant recipients,” said Jan Finn, RN, MSN, MTN President & Chief Executive Officer. “It’s an honor to fulfill the mission of MTN in this incredibly important work and also recognize the need to continue innovating and improving to honor donor heroes and their families. We are proud to see our staff and facility working so well allowing us to extend the gift of life to even more recipients and provide hope for those awaiting a transplant.”

MTN staff members are highly trained in the complexity of caring for organ donor heroes in the DCU, which was designed specifically to maximize the gift of life; this can free up critical resources in area hospitals — such as intensive care unit beds and operating rooms — to serve other patients in need.

“My team has complete confidence in sending our patients to Midwest Transplant Network’s DCU,” said Carol Perry, Senior Vice President & Chief Nursing Officer, Stormont Vail Health; MTN Advisory Board. “The state-of-the-art facility allows MTN’s team of expertly trained staff members to provide specialized care for donors as their gifts are matched with recipients and throughout the organ, eye and tissue recovery process. Knowing our donor heroes are receiving high-quality care at the DCU allows us to dedicate resources to critically ill patients in our ICU.”

Out of 56 organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in the U.S., MTN is just the 12th organization with a donor care and recovery center that is not based in a hospital. Creating the DCU is one of many tactics MTN has taken to improve donation outcomes.

“It was hard to imagine the extent of possibilities and growth that would result from the opening of the DCU — and yet, as a team, we have successfully learned how to perform our own echocardiograms and liver biopsies, take X-rays and prepare our own slides for pathology, all while continuing to provide the best care possible to our donor heroes,” said Emily Freund, BSN, RN, CPTC, MTN Organ Procurement Coordinator III. “The DCU is proving to be key in our mission to increasing gifts transplanted.”

[1] All DCU data pulled from Sept. 1, 2022, through July 31, 2023.

Colonial Life sales team donates $1,000 to Midwest Transplant Network

From left to right: Amanda Liezert and Marie Simms, Colonial Life; Jan Finn and Sarah Oland, MTN. Back row: Terry Shambles, MTN; Noah Costlow and Alex Sanz, Colonial Life.

A sales competition among local teams at Colonial Life meant the winners could donate $1,000 to an organization of their choice.

Amanda Liezert, Agency Manager, Colonial Life, is on the Kansas Territory team, and she has connections to Midwest Transplant Network. She previously owned Tierney Office Supplies, and MTN was a client. In 2002, her husband, John Liezert, received a heart transplant at Saint Luke’s Hospital. MTN was part of their journey. He lived until December 2020.

“Organ donation indirectly gave me my family. We were just starting our lives, and one person’s loss gave us a whole life,” said Liezert.

Amanda’s team won the contest and chose Midwest Transplant Network as their beneficiary.

“There were no second thoughts,” said Marie Simms, District General Manager, Colonial Life. “We know Amanda’s story, we love her and her family, and we know the importance of organ donation.”

The team visited MTN’s headquarters to present a $1,000 ceremonial check, received by Jan Finn, RN, MSN, President & Chief Executive Officer; Sarah Oland, LMSW, Chief Stakeholder Engagement Officer; and Terry Shambles, FACHE, FHFMA, Treasurer & Chief Financial Officer.

Ornament with tag

Bringing Light to a Sometimes-Bittersweet Season

Ornament with tag

The holidays can evoke memories of time spent with loved ones and family traditions. This time of year can be particularly difficult for those who have lost loved ones, including families and friends of all donor heroes.

Toward the end of each calendar year, amid many holidays, Midwest Transplant Network hosts Hope for the Holidays, a time to remember donor heroes and celebrate the gift of life. This year, families will be treated to a special screening of the holiday movie “Elf” in Kansas City’s historic Union Station.

“Hope for the Holidays is a chance for families of our donor heroes to come together in remembrance and celebration during what can be a very difficult time of the year,” said Donor Family Services Coordinator Denise Cooper. “We are honored and humbled to spend time with donor families each holiday season.”

Donor families will bring an ornament to honor their loved one that will hang on an MTN-branded holiday tree complete with presents underneath sporting “Give Hope. Share Life.” wrapping paper. Union Station guests from all over the country can see the tree near the movie theater concession area through Monday, Jan. 3. Along with enjoying the beautiful tree, they will have a chance to join the national organ, eye and tissue donor registry at registerme.org/hopefortheholidays and share hope this holiday season with the 100,000 individuals waiting for lifesaving and life-enhancing transplants.

From everyone at MTN, we wish you a peaceful holiday season.

Hope for the HolidaysHope for the Holidays

MTN Donor Family Coordinators

Donor Family Coordinators

Donor Family Coordinators Kara Gartner (left) and Denise Cooper

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 our first post, we heard from Donation Communications Coordinators Jessica Cleary and Lindy Maska. For today’s post, Donor Family Coordinators Denise Cooper and Kara Gartner answered a few questions about their roles.

Briefly describe what Donor Family Coordinators do.

Donor Family Coordinators are responsible for all communication between donor families and recipients. We also provide recipient follow up to donor families upon request.

Another big part of our job is planning all the celebrations and special events for donor families.

For how long will MTN support a donor family after their loved one’s donation?

MTN’s formal Donor Family Support program is two years, but all families have the opportunity to stay on our mailing list indefinitely. Families are also able to rejoin at any time by filling out a request on our Serenity Newsletter page at mtn.org/serenity.

What are donor family events, and how can families get involved?

Each year, MTN hosts a variety of donor family days for all our donor families to attend. In recent years, we have held events at the Kansas City Zoo, Sedgwick County Zoo, Warm Springs Ranch and the Joplin Pumpkin Patch. MTN donor family events are a great way to meet other donor families while also remembering your loved one.

We also host our Celebration of Heroes in Kansas City, Wichita, Joplin and Columbia. The Celebration of Heroes is a way to honor organ, eye and tissue donors and their families. MTN presents each family with a beautifully handcrafted stained-glass heart to honor their loved one. Families also have the opportunity to pin their quilt square on the Donor Memorial Quilt during the celebration.

Information about how to register for the next celebration and donor family events will be in the Serenity newsletters and on the MTN website.

How can a donor family communicate with their loved one’s recipient(s)? Similarly, how can a transplant recipient communicate with their donor’s family?

Correspondence with your loved one’s recipients has no time limit. We will continue to forward communication to both parties regardless of a donor family’s participation in our Donor Family Support program.

When a donor family decides to write to their loved one’s recipients, they would send the letter to MTN. We then forward the letter to the recipient’s transplant center, and it is forwarded to the recipient.

When a recipient writes to their donor’s family, they give the letter to their transplant center coordinator. The coordinator then forwards the letter to MTN, and we then send it to the family.

Can donor families who initially do not wish to receive support from MTN later connect with the Donor Family Support program? If so, how?

Yes, the opportunity to receive support from MTN is always available. If at any time a family would like to be added to our newsletter mailing list or has any questions, they can call us at 913-262-1668 or connect with us through our website at mwtn.org/contact-us.

What is the one thing you’d want to tell someone who knows nothing about your work?

It is an honor to support donor families whose loved ones have given the gift of organ, eye or tissue gifts.

Why should people say “yes” to organ, eye and tissue donation?

A YES to donation is one of the most selfless and generous things a person can do. Donation can help someone’s child, sister/brother, mother/father, etc. and give a stranger the gift of life or enhance their lives with tissue donation. These gifts cause a ripple effect, touching so many other lives.