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.