LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nearly 1,700 healthcare professionals gathered in Pomona last week at the nation’s largest organ donation and transplantation symposium where they shared best practices and discovered ways to raise public awareness of the importance and power of being a donor. The 10th annual event was sponsored by OneLegacy, the nation’s largest organ, eye and tissue recovery organization.
Attendees at the symposium included physicians, nurses, transplant center staffs, pastoral care professionals, palliative care professionals and social workers. With the theme of “The Power of Hope and Heroes,” among the topics discussed were the role of hospitals in the donation process, patient rights, community collaboration, the diagnosis of brain death, dealing with surgical delays and new innovations in tissue donation.
“Each year this symposium helps to honor the incredible work attendees are doing every day to assist in making donation possible in a compassionate and beautiful way,” said OneLegacy Chief Operating Officer Prasad Garimella. “Donation not only saves or heals the life of the transplant recipient but increasingly donor families are telling us that they find the act of donation to be an important and lasting way to honor their loved ones.”
Among the most moving parts of the day was the story of a 6-year-old boy who was tragically killed when hit by a car while crossing the street and whose donation of his kidneys and heart provided the gift of life to three other people. Helping to tell his story were the first responders at the scene of the accident (including those from the sheriff’s office, fire department and EMT staff), hospital clinicians who worked valiantly in an effort to save the young patient, and the boy’s mother who witnessed the accident and who authorized donation because her young son “always wanted to be a hero.” After her remarks, the first responders and hospital personnel lined the center aisle at the symposium to provide the mother and her entire family one last “honor walk,” just as had been done at the hospital.
The symposium also featured the introduction of the song “The Perfect Stranger,” composed and performed by Melissa Kaye, daughter of a heart transplant recipient. The song speaks of the beautiful and loving act of donation and the gratitude she and her family feel toward a “perfect stranger” who gave the gift of life.
With National Eye Donation Month coming in November, attendees were provided an update on the OneLegacy eye bank, the largest such bank in Southern California where it recovers, evaluates, processes and distributes an array of ocular tissue for transplantation and research. It is the only eye bank in Los Angeles that provides all ocular products, including not only corneas needed for transplantation but also ocular tissue needed for glaucoma surgeries.
Symposium attendees also were afforded a sneak preview of the 2020 Donate Life Rose Parade® float that will travel down Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena, California, on New Year’s Day. The theme for the parade is “The Power of Hope,” and the Donate Life float—“Light in the Darkness”—will highlight the power of unity, light and love as celebrated during Southeast Asia’s Diwali, or the Festival of Lights. This year’s Donate Life float will include 70 participants from all around the nation and is made possible thanks to more than 45 sponsoring donation, transplant, healthcare, and family care organizations and individuals. Now in its 17th year, the Donate Life Rose Parade float is the centerpiece of a national effort to reach a broad audience and tell the powerful story of donation.
OneLegacy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives through organ, eye and tissue donation in seven counties in Southern California: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Kern. Serving more than 200 hospitals, 11 transplant centers and a diverse population of nearly 20 million, OneLegacy is the largest organ, eye and tissue recovery organization in the world. For more information, call OneLegacy at 800-786-4077, or visit onelegacy.org.