(O’Fallon, IL) – With the operating room ready for organ donation to begin, a recent intensive care patient at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital was honored by staff from across the hospital June 30, as he was taken to the operating room to be removed from life support and his organs donated.
This ceremony is known as a “Path of Honor” walk and this was the first time St. Elizabeth’s held this type of event for an organ donor.
“This type of respectful recognition has been done at various hospitals across the country when requested by a patient’s family,” noted Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse manager Kacey Frederking, RN. “It was a very moving celebration of both this patient’s life and the gifts he chose to give to others.”
The patient, named Curtis Vollmer of New Baden, Illinois, made the choice during his life to be an organ donor and his family requested the walk to acknowledge the gifts he was about to give.
As part of the walk, colleagues from numerous departments lined the hall of the ICU and respectfully watched as Vollmer was moved from his room with his family and friends at his side. Special words of recognition and thanks were shared over him and with the family by Meg Parks, family support specialist from Mid-America Transplant. “We are humbled by the generosity of Curtis and his family. His legacy continues in this final act of selflessness and heroism. We say thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to impact the lives of many and make a difference in our world.” Vollmer’s mother was also presented with a medal honoring the gifts that were about to be given and the hospital Spiritual Care team provided support and prayers to the family throughout the emotional day.
Vollmer, in his bed, was slowly wheeled down the hall past the staff, many of whom had cared for him in while he was in the ICU in the days prior. His family and the Mid-America Transplant team members followed. At the end of the hall, all exited the ICU to turned out of sight to proceed to the operating room for organ retrieval.
“We have a deep dedication at St. Elizabeth’s for our patients and the preciousness of life. The Path of Honor was another caring gesture of thanks we could do to show his family that we think those who donate to others are true heroes,” Frederking added.
Vollmer saved two lives of others with his kidney donation and his liver was donated to research to help others for generations to come.
A video of the “Path of Honor” ceremony is available on the hospital’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8GOK5cK5k3u8yvJ_qxyoBA
St. Elizabeth’s regularly works with Mid-America Transplant to save lives through organ and tissue donation. The need for organ donors is much greater than the number of people who donate. The United Network for Organ Sharing estimates that more than 113,000 people are waiting to receive organ transplants. If you would like to register to be an organ donor, visit www.SayYesGiveLife.org.