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New Wall of Heroes Honors Organ and Tissue Donors

Jan 05, 2015 05:30PM ● By MED Magazine

Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center recently dedicated its new Wall of Heroes, honoring individuals and their families who made the courageous choice to donate organs and tissue.

The new Wall of Heroes consists of two video screens in “Heritage Hall,” the curved hallway leading from the lobby of Avera McKennan that tells Avera McKennan’s story in pictures and displays. The screens show a photo and short biography of the donors whose families have chosen to honor them this way. Families so far have submitted approximately 100 photos and stories.

Among donors recognized on the Wall of Heroes is 16-year-old Andrea Cleveland of Corsica, South Dakota, who died in November 2011 following a car accident. Her parents honored Andrea's decision to be an organ and tissue donor, which she had proudly marked on her driver's license. Andrea's gifts of organ donation saved the lives of five people, and her gifts of tissue donation benefited people across the country.

"I am so proud of her for doing this," said her mother Marlene. "The accident was going to happen whether she marked 'donor' or not. If she hadn't signed up, those people would have gone through the same thing we went through. Because of Andrea, they made it."

A number of hospitals across the United States have “donor walls” but most feature a static display. Avera’s transplant staff received a grant from Avera’s Employee Giving Campaign to create the novel video display, which provides more room to showcase donor stories.

In 1993, Avera was a pioneer in this region with the first kidney transplant program in the Dakotas. In 2003, the solid organ transplant program was expanded to add pancreas transplant, and a liver transplant program is underway. The Avera Transplant Institute along with the Avera Cancer Institute oversees the Dakotas’ only bone marrow transplant program as well. A total of more than 1,100 transplants have been performed.

Avera partners with LifeSource in the organ donation process. In conjunction with the dedication of the Wall of Heroes in December, Avera presented LifeSource with a check for $10,000 as a community benefit donation and LifeSource presented Avera McKennan with its Workplace for Life award, in recognition of activities that raise awareness for organ donation.

The Wall of Heroes will be on display for six months of the year, from October through December and April through June.