"You've Said 'Yes' to Donation. Now What?" is a National Donate Life Month story series that chronicles the ins and outs of the complex donation process. Journey with us during NDLM 2017 as we showcase the behind-the-scenes people who help turn tragedy into triumph by making donation happen.
"Everything that takes place from the moment our partners call us with a donation referral until the conversation of donation takes place with a family or legal guardian determines if donation will happen." — Caitlin Coleman, Donation Coordinator at Gift of Hope
While our Community Affairs team increases awareness of organ and tissue donation in the community, the Donation Coordinators who serve on our Hospital Development team are hard at work building and strengthening relationships with our professional partners who play a vital role in making donation possible.
Every day, these partners — hospital professionals, transplant coordinators, coroners, funeral directors and medical examiners — make potential donor referrals to our Donor Resource Center, and from that moment forward we work with those partners to honor the wishes of donors and donor families who have said "yes" to donation.
Partners in Donation
Caitlin Coleman (pictured below) is one of 21 Donation Coordinators who work with our partners to establish and implement procedures and protocols essential to make the shared donation process work. They accomplish this through ongoing sharing of information and educational training provided by our Donation Coordinators. While some Donation Coordinators work with hospitals and transplant centers only, others also serve as liaisons with coroners and funeral directors, who may become involved in tissue donation cases.
"Donation Coordinators provide information and education to a multitude of individuals," said Caitlin. "I work exclusively with hospitals and train nursing staff, operating room staff, resident physicians, attending physicians and many others. Donation impacts many professionals from beginning to end. We provide education to as many of them as possible to make sure everyone is working together to honor the wishes of donors and donor families."
Not a 9-to-5 Job
Donation Coordinators don't work the conventional nine-to-five workday. And the job requires excellent time management and flexibility, so the people who work in these positions must be able to switch plans and gears at a moment's notice.
"Every day is different," Caitlin said. "The hours are varied, plans can change at any minute, and I love that. It's important to get face time with our donation partners on a regular basis, whether it's very early morning or late at night. We understand how busy they are and work around their schedules as much as possible."
The Donation Coordinator's job has its challenges. Because donation is not for everyone, Caitlin believes that her job is not to debate with or convince people that donation is for them. Her goal is to develop solid shared donation processes with partners, which can ultimately help achieve positive outcomes for people who want to donate.
Call Early and Call Often
"Timely referral calls from our partners are incredibly important to a successful donation outcome," Caitlin said. "'Call early and call often.' is the main message I share during my trainings and informational sessions. Everything that takes place from the moment our partners call us with a donation referral until the conversation of donation takes place with a family or legal guardian determines if donation will happen. That is why establishing clear and effective donation procedures and processes with our partners is so essential to the shared donation process and to successful donation outcomes."