Build a Better Future for Pediatric Donation10/1/2018
It is because of a compassionate decision and a series of miracles that Zamya Noriega is alive today. The 16-year-old shared the incredible story of her liver transplant to a room full of pediatric donation partners at the Pediatric Symposium on Aug. 24, 2018. Her story is one of many, and with the cooperation of pediatric specialists, there will continue to be stories of faith, hope and healing.
“Build a Better Future for Pediatric Donation” was the theme surrounding this year’s pediatric symposium. Lego blocks and colorful décor welcomed nurses, social workers, child life specialists and more individuals who play a part in saving lives.
Hope Through Tragedy
The day began with the story of a mother who experienced the sudden, tragic loss of her 4-year-old daughter, Addie. Addie was a seemingly healthy little girl, but undiagnosed diabetes caused her brain to swell and hemorrhage, leading to brain death. Micki Parker and her husband Darrell were asked if they would like their daughter to be an organ donor. At the time, Micki worked in health care, so she knew the importance of donation and didn’t think twice. She and her husband “absolutely” agreed for Addie to be a donor. She has written several letters to the recipients that Addie helped, and hopes that they are living full, happy lives. Through the gift of life, Micki has also been able to experience the joy of young Grant, the boy who received Addie’s liver.
“The love I have for Grant, I can’t put into words,” Micki said. “Grant gives me hope that Addie lives on and her life mattered.”
Micki shared her story to emphasize the importance of pediatric organ donation. She also encourages nurses and pediatric partners to do their part to ensure the gift of donation in viable patients.
Building a Strong Foundation
The day was broken up by individual sessions that focused on the building blocks in pediatric donation. Nationally-recognized speaker Dr. Thomas Nakagawa gave a noteworthy presentation on the brain death declaration process for pediatric donors. A panel of experts explored the donation options available in cases that involve medical examiner offices. Renowned doctors Imad Haddad, Mudit Mathur and Daniel Velez also provided insights to improve the world of pediatric donation.
Throughout the event, a video walked the audience through the entire donation process, from a tragic car accident to DNA’s family support after donation. The moving video educated pediatric donation partners and showed the important roles that they play in the donation process. DNA department staff also hosted learning tables for attendees to learn more about transplantation options in pediatric patients and what donation means for donor families.
In closing, Zamya thanked health care professionals and the role they played, and continue to play, in her second chance at life.
“Someone exactly like you saved my life,” Zamya said. “I hope you’ll keep in mind and share my story with your friends and family to honor the little boy who saved my life — and to inspire yourself and your colleagues to keep doing the work you do. It makes a huge difference.”