August 19, 2010
Giving the Gift of Life
“She spent her whole life giving, so if anyone would have wanted to do this, it would have been her.”
That is how Jim Campbell explained his family’s decision to enroll his sister LaMayra Campbell Brown in the organ donor registry after she suffered a fatal stroke on February 20, 2010.
She passed away on February 21, 2010 but not before she was able to bestow the gift of life to a former Gorin resident while also donating to the health of others she never knew.
While LaMayra was not a registered organ donor, her sudden illness thrust the family into the decision making process due to a very bleak prognosis.
When the idea of organ donation was brought up, there were some mixed feelings among the family members. But those issues disappeared when LaMayra’s husband Jim, pastor of the Gorin Christian Church, reminded them all, “It’s all dust” referring to the human body after death.
Once the decision was made, the work began.
Jim Campbell contacted the organ donor coordinator, which was the Illinois branch of the service, since LaMayra had been transferred to Blessing Hospital in Quincy, IL, following her stroke.
According to Donate Life Illinois, the organ donation program for the state, federal regulations require hospitals to notify their regional organ procurement organization to evaluate patient deaths or imminent deaths for potential donation. The Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network reviews the situation to learn if there are potential donations to be made.
Some patients have registered as a donor, but in instances like LaMayra’s where she was not a registered donor, the team must offer the option to the family members. Under Illinois state and federal regulations, families of potential organ donors must be offered the option to donate, receiving full information about their options.
Once consent is given to become an organ donor, the organ recovery coordinator assumes care of the donor. A thorough physical exam is conducted, and the patient’s body is maintained by artificial means and stabilized with fluids and medications. Tests are conducted to determine which organs are suitable for transplant. Medical information about the donor is sent to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) for matching with potential recipients.
Once all organs are placed, the coordinator arranges for an operating room at the hospital and coordinates the arrival of the transplant surgery teams. The donor’s organs are removed in a surgical procedure that is extremely respectful of the nature of the gift that has been given. Most organs are taken directly to the recipients by the surgical recovery team.
In this particular case, not only did LaMayra Brown give the gift of life to Miriam Rogers Nichols, a liver transplant, but she also donated a kidney as well as skin transplants, which were in extremely high demand because of the disaster in Haiti.
In Missouri, residents can decide to become an organ donor using a variety of options. You can register your decision in Missouri’s registry online at www.missouriorgandonor.com. Individuals can also enroll in the registry when obtaining or renewing a driver’s license. Registration forms may be received by calling toll-free at 888-497-4564 to obtain a copy of the form to be completed and mailed in. On the back of Missouri driver’s license there is an option to become an organ donor, which simply must be signed with a permanent marker, with a witness’s signature too.