ROCHESTER — For the seventh year in a row, Olmsted Medical Center has received the Platinum Hospital Award for its encouragement and promotion of organ, eye and tissue donation.
“The amount of patients that are touched, individuals that are touched,” said Robert Cunningham, OMC’s chief operating officer. “Seventy-five individuals can be impacted by one donor, so the impact is huge.”
The award is granted by the Division of Transplantation within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration. At a reception ceremony Wednesday, members of OMC’s Team DAPP (donate life, advanced care planning, palliative care and patient rights) accepted the award from Cathy Dudley, the organ donation liaison for OMC and Mayo Clinic.
“Our city is called the city of compassion, and it is very reflective in the Olmsted Medical Center Team DAPP group,” said Dudley, who works with LifeSource, the organ procurement organization that covers Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota and western Wisconsin.
While Mayo Clinic is the major organ transplant center in Southeast Minnesota, OMC plays a big role in identifying recently deceased patients who qualify for organ, eye and tissue donation. OMC has a 100% referral rate for its eligible donors, which is “not easy to do,” Dudley said.
“They just have a really good system for putting those in — it has to be within one hour of when that patient passes,” Dudley said.
OMC’s Team DAPP also partakes in education and awareness efforts throughout the year, Dudley said.
“They do flowerpots and they put the QR code in there for registering (as an organ donor),” Dudley said. “They do coffee sleeves and cups with the registry QR code on there.”
Alongside fruit punch and cake, those at the award reception could find advance care directive paperwork that individuals can use to specify their end-of-life wishes, which can include organ donation.
“I encourage you to take one and support the team,” said Patty Stockdale, partner and community relations manager for Lions Gift of Sight. “Speak with your families and get those end-of-life wishes documented.”
Martina Goodman, a 26-year-old licensed practical nurse and kidney recipient, shared the journey she and her family underwent to get her new kidney.
“When I was born, I had multiple medical issues,” Goodman said. “(The doctors) thought that I was born without kidneys because they couldn’t find them. They couldn’t find my kidneys because I have pelvic kidneys — basically, they’re not where they’re supposed to be.”
Through her childhood, Goodman had to adhere to a specific diet, deal with frequent exhaustion and receive major surgeries on her heart, bladder and legs. After she graduated high school, Goodman and her parents moved to Rochester from Oklahoma. She was put on the kidney transplant waiting list.
“I always knew that I wanted to go into the medical field when I got older, but because of my kidney failure I couldn’t go to college right after high school like everybody else likes to do. … I couldn’t even go get a job because my body was shutting down.”
In 2016, Goodman’s dad sought out testing to see if he could donate a kidney. Through testing, he appeared to be a match, Goodman said, and he lost weight to prepare for donating. The Goodmans later learned, though, that Goodman’s and her father’s antibodies weren’t compatible. He could not give her a kidney.
“But then, Mayo mentioned that they had a paired exchange program,” Goodman said. “He would donate to a stranger, and a stranger would donate to me.”
On Feb. 8, 2017, Goodman received her kidney transplant from someone she didn’t know. Several days later, her dad gave one of his kidneys to someone else.
“I didn’t truly get to enjoy life before I had my transplant. Since I got my transplant, I have been able to go to college, I have traveled and I’ve been able to enjoy my life,” Goodman said. “At some point I would love to go back to school to receive my RN degree and further my career to become a transplant coordinator because organ donation has saved my life so much, in so many ways.”