Hospital Workers Pay Final Respects As Organ Donor Comes Off Life Support
Kristin Danley 10/1/2018
Families waiting for a viable matching organ to become available for a loved one know all too well that their joy when one is ready means another family is suffering a loss. But there is some solace found for those families, knowing that their beloved's heart is still beating, albeit in another person.
Organ donation is a very sensitive subject, but agreeing to be an organ donor means saving a life. Medical professionals at St. Luke's Meridian Medical Center in Idaho know all too well how difficult this can be for families to sign off on their loved one's contribution to another.
But they also know what it means to the recipient and their family. A tradition at this hospital has drawn attention recently for the way hospital staff pay their final respects to organ donors.
Called the "Walk of Respect," photos of their reaction have gone viral. Hospital employees line the space between the intensive care unit and the elevators to pay their respects to organ donors as they are wheeled down the hallway.
Not a sound can be heard as the hospital bed is solemnly wheeled along. The employees clasp their hands together and bow their heads while loved ones follow along.
Deb Compton, intensive care unit director at St. Luke's, started the "Walk of Respect" a couple of years ago. It has caught on elsewhere, too, the hospital noted on its website.
"Family and friends of those who gave the ultimate gift of life are appreciative of the demonstration of respect and compassion from staff. During a particularly moving Walk of Respect in Magic Valley, the wife of a donor was overheard telling her two young children, 'This is your father's hero welcome into heaven.' For these families and loved ones, the Walk of Respect leaves a lasting impression and hopefully provides a moment of peace among the grief. Not only is it a valued process for loved ones, it also provides comfort and a moment for the patient's care team to reflect on their own feelings."
Facebook user Lara Leigh Vick commented on St. Luke's post that her older brother Paul donated his organs. It was difficult for her as his sister, but reassuring for her as a nurse.
"As a healthy organ donor, we know (as a family) that Paul has saved numerous lives through his death. As an RN myself, that is a bittersweet moment, knowing my brother has helped others live...I still miss my brother who died too early."