Roxborough Memorial Hospital CEO Peter Adamo, center, holds the Platinum status award from the 2015 Donate Life Challenge. He is pictured with the Donate Life steering committee and nursing student Jenna Lyn Dougherty, far right. Eric Fitzsimmons — Digital First Media
ROXBOROUGH >> Roxborough Memorial Hospital was awarded a plaque May 24 celebrating its efforts during the 2015 Donate Life Hospital Challenge to increase awareness in the community of the benefits and importance of organ and tissue donation.
In its first year participating in the Gift of Live and Hospital Association of Pennsylvania-sponsored challenge, Roxborough Memorial Hospital achieved Platinum status, the highest level recognized. Statuses are calculated on points that hospitals earn by completing various activities to help people learn about organ donation, by hosting a donor registration drive, attending health fairs or putting a message out in local press, Roxborough's Donate Life steering committee chair, Dr. Sally Lane, said in a conversation earlier this month.
Lane said she was interested in the challenge, having seen the need for organ donation in her own family, so she went to the kickoff meeting in March 2015, but was unsure how her colleagues at the hospital would take to the idea. Her worry, she was relieved to discover, was without basis.
"Not only were people willing to be involved, but they were enthusiastic and we had a wonderful team that worked throughout those several months and we accumulated enough points to reach the highest status in the HAP campaign," Lane said at the May 24 dedication ceremony. "And we were one of the highest single-hospital totals in the state. That was in our first year."
The celebration came during the hospital's 2016 Donate Life campaign, which kicked of in April, which is National Donate Life Month, and runs through August, according to Lane, with programs for both the public and for staff and students at the hospital about talking with potential donors and the process.
Lane said becoming an organ donor is something that comes up for most people only when they go to renew their driver's license, but the need is constant and the good that can be done by becoming an organ donor tremendous. Since the hospital program started participating in the challenge, people have started sharing about personal and family experiences with organ donation.
Such was the case with Jenna Lyn Dougherty, a graduate nursing student at Roxborough Memorial Hospital, who spoke at the award ceremony. The birth of Dougherty's son Joey was complicated by the overproduction of the hormone pitocin. Efforts to save Joey were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced brain dead after seven days. Dougherty said she was contacted by Gift of Life about a girl in Ohio who needed a heart and for whom Joey was a match — the only match.
"Ultimately, we decided to give the gift of life, allowing him to live through her," Dougherty said.
Dougherty received a letter from the girl's mother two years after that about that night and how they were getting ready to take her off life support the next day when the call came through and the heart was rushed in for surgery.
"Today, she's 8-and-a-half years old and Joey's heart is allowing her to live and play like any child should," Dougherty said.
Along with the plaque, Roxborough Memorial Hospital also used the ceremony as an occasion to dedicate an newly planted dogwood tree in a garden in the hospital's parking lot.
The platinum status plaque was presented to the Donate Life steering committee at Roxborough Memorial by Debbie Cotellese from Gift of Life.
Already the hospital has surpassed its point total while it continues on with new programs to help spread the message.
Lane said it is simple to change your organ donation status either at your driver's license renewal or online through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, a link to that page can be found at the Gift of Life's website, donors1.org.