More Than a Career: a Calling
Jenny Hoover, Living Kidney Donor
November is a month full of the rich colors of fall, beautiful foliage, the scent of roasted pumpkins seeds, mulling spices on the cooktop, a nip in the air, a snow flurry here [and] there, memories of loved ones with us [and] those we’ve lost, [and] the intentional giving of thanks which is why myHeart chose to build upon the attitude of thanksgiving that we are so tender to at this time of year.
Lifeline of Ohio is an organ procurement organization [OPO] that works in cooperation with the United Network Of Organ Sharing [UNOS] and transplant centers in the allocation of donor organs [and] Jenny Hoover is an earth angel who serves as a member of Lifeline’s Bereavement Services.
I invited Jenny to guest post here at myHeart as she is the bereavement counselor [and] nurse from Lifeline who worked with my donor’s family amidst the gut-wrenching [and] heartbreaking loss of one they loved so dearly as they made a decision regarding organ donation. Jenny was also instrumental is bringing me into direct communication with my donor’s incredible dad; therefore, she was THE one I wanted to speak to the WHY behind the sacred service provides daily in the lives of donor and recipient families.
“I began working as a nurse in an intensive care unit at a hospital in central Ohio in 1983. While I enjoyed the field I was in, I wanted something more. I wanted a career that would allow me to become more involved in the local community while seeking to make a difference in this world. As a newcomer to the area, I was introduced to Linda Jones who had just started the local organ recovery program.
I joined Lifeline of Ohio during its first year, 1985, as an assistant transplant coordinator. I loved the work I was doing! Not only did I help on the clinical side of donation, I was alos involved with our hospital partners and facilitated community education all over central and southeastern Ohio.
I knew I had found my place.
After ten years of seeing countless lives touched by donation, the cause became personal as my own family was affected by organ failure. My cousin, Dianne, was in need of a kidney transplant as she had developed kidney problems while in college. After having had two children, her condition worsened, and she was in complete renal failure.
Initially, she didn’t want to put anyone out by asking for a living donor, so she resigned resigned herself to dialysis for the rest of her life. From my work with transplant candidates, I knew that she was facing a reduced quality of life and dialysis would dramatically shorten her life expectancy.
After a short time on dialysis, she was tired of being tired. She called me at work in April of 1996 to ask what she would have to do to join the national transplant waiting list. I contacted The Ohio State University Medical Center’s transplant program, conveniently located downstairs from my office, and unbeknownst to Dianne, I asked to be tested as a match. Dianne found out when I called to tell her that we were a match, and I was going to be her donor.
On September 20, 1996, I donated a kidney to Dianne. It took six weeks for me to recover and return to a normal life. Dianne had a longer road ahead. After a few roadblocks in the first year following the transplant, she committed to making the new kidney work and took great care of herself.
Today, 16 years later, she is living a normal life. Completely off of her steroids, Dianne works for the health department. As a mother, she has had the chance to see her children grow into their 20s and has been present be for all of life’s milestones.
I have had no complications from the donation.
We have a bond that’s unique and we are forever united by that kidney. Our direct connection has impacted the work I do today as Bereavement Services Coordinator at Lifeline of Ohio.
When people ask me what I think about donation I can tell them that it is so important to me that I donated while living and I hope to do so after death.
I’ve found my place. Saving lives through organ and tissue donation is more than just a job or something that has touched my own family – it is my calling, my personal mission.
Thanks to Jenny for answering the call on her life [and] for sharing how organ donation has impacted her family which has served to fuel her passion for the families she serves.
Give Thanks. Give LIFE.