The first day of the 2020’s community service began on Wednesday afternoon at Lifenet Health. As we arrived, we were warmly greeted by Morgan Burgess, the Lifenet Health Foundation Development Coordinator. After we put on our visitor’s badges, we were escorted to a conference room where we were asked to complete a quiz on organ and tissue donations. The quiz was comprised of 15 questions on the most common myths and misconceptions of organ and tissue donations. Each question contained a statement that the test taker had to identify as either fact or fiction. After everyone had completed the test, Mrs. Burgess reviewed each question and gave us the opportunity to take notes and ask questions. Following a detailed discussion about the quiz, Mrs. Burgess introduced us to the 2016 Norfolk Academy Global Health Fellows and Lifenet Health Project. The goal of the project is to create a slogan to promote awareness of organ and tissue donation on a personal and emotional level. We then said our goodbyes and headed back to the Norfolk Academy campus. During the first week of community service the class of 2020 learned two important things. One being the importance of fully understanding a topic before making a strong decision and the other being the value of spreading a positive message in the community to benefit others. I really enjoyed my first week and I cannot wait to see what week #2 has to offer!
On October 5, 2016, the 20’s cohort of the Global Health Fellows attended the second community service meeting and third overall visit to LifeNet Health, the regional Organ Procurement Organization (OPO). Our overall project is to create a slogan that can spread awareness for organ and tissue donation. During this meeting, we listened to Mrs. Donna Bishop’s story of her life changing experience as a receiver of a vertigraft donation. Later, we discussed language sensitivity. Mrs. Donna Bishop, a receiver of a vertigraft, had been in pain for a year as a result of a vertebrae injury. She had surgery done in which a donated graft would be placed and infused into her spinal column along the C2-C3 vertebrae, which would alleviate the pain. Mrs. Bishop recalled the great relief she had the next morning and her gratitude to the organ and tissue donation program. Her story demonstrates the incredible impact that the donation had on her life. Also, we learned about the importance of language sensitivity in organ and tissue donation. Families who have lost loved ones must be treated with the utmost respect by all organ and tissue donation organizations if the deceased is an organ and tissue donor. That is why these organizations, including LifeNet Health, must be as respectful as possible. As they strive to treat families with respect, they are constantly changing their language to make it more caring and suitable. An example of this is the change from saying “life support” to the more accurate “mechanical support” because saying “life support” gave a false hope to the family that their loved one is still alive while in actuality, the patient may be virtually deceased. Through this, we learned of the intricate system of the organ and tissue donation program and how much the families of the patients matter.