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Gear Up: Loading Your Donation Toolbox


Four-year-old Jaxson Dahl has a small ninja turtle backpack that he wheels around with him wherever he goes. Unfortunately, this backpack is more than just a childhood passion. His life depends on the medical equipment inside as he waits for an intestinal, liver and pancreas transplant.

Jaxson’s mother, Katie, attended Donor Network of Arizona’s (DNA) 2017 Donation Symposium, “Gear Up: Loading Your Donation Toolbox,” to share his story with donation partners.

“Everyone tells me I’m brave, but Jaxson’s the brave one. I’m raising a warrior,” she told the audience, which included everyone from nurses and emergency professionals to funeral home professionals and respiratory therapists.

A Day of Learning

The Donation Symposium was an all-day conference that provided classes and educational resources tailored to meet the needs of donation partners. This year, DNA loaded up their donation toolbox with all the necessary tools to help donation succeed in Arizona on Thursday, Aug. 24, at Desert Willow Conference Center.

“DNA strives to present the tools for success to these professionals because they play such an important role in the donation process,” says Kristine Roberts, professional education coordinator at DNA.


Nearly 400 attendees enjoyed a full day of learning about tools that will help them not only do their job better, but also improve outcomes for donation.

Learning tables set up in the lobby represented the different roles that DNA plays in the donation process. The Public Education table displayed all the different ways that someone can register as an organ and tissue donor. There was also a kidney pump and a lung in a box to show new advances in organ care before transplant.

DNA staff manned the Public Education table to educate about different ways to register and hand out prizes to everyone who played a game during the event.

Saving Lives Together

Three plenary sessions were spaced throughout the day to provide insights to donation that were useful for all attendees. One session highlighted the entire donation process, and the roles that everyone plays in making donation a success. A guest speaker reviewed the best new technologies and innovations to save lives in another session. The last plenary session explored new perspectives with which to view the donation process.

Every day thousands just like Jaxson are waiting for a call that might save their life. It is vital that everyone in the donation process understands just how impactful their actions can be for someone else. Tools shared at the Donation Symposium helped guests expand their view of donation and learn how their job affects this chain of generosity.

Dr. Winston Hewitt discussed many aspects of the liver waitlist, including new technology and some of the challenges that need to be overcome in order to shorten or eliminate it.

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