In a moving April ceremony at Chicago’s Mount Sinai Hospital, Gift of Hope presented a Tragedy to Triumph Award to the family of organ and tissue donor Jonathan Pulido, who became a donor at Mount Sinai. Gift of Hope also took the opportunity to honor the hospital’s leadership and staff members for their tireless efforts in supporting organ and tissue donation by presenting Mount Sinai with its Supporting the Gift Award.
Gift of Hope Director of Community Affairs Jack Lynch presented the Tragedy to Triumph Award to Jonathan’s mother, Leopoldina Chino de Pulido, his three siblings, his girlfriend and his daughter. “Jonathan represents the many trauma patients cared for by Mount Sinai staff members each year,” Lynch said. “Six lives were saved when Jonathan’s family made the decision to help others by making the decision to donate his organs and tissue.”
In accepting the award on the family’s behalf, Pulido said she made the decision to donate based on her Christian principles. “My son’s death was a tragedy, but it was also an opportunity to help save the lives of others,” she said.
Two people who received organ transplants thanks to Jonathan’s lifesaving gifts also attended the event. Chicago resident Carlos Madrigal, 31, a single father of a young son who received one of Jonathan’s kidneys, had suffered from kidney disease since age 19 and had been on dialysis for 10 years before receiving a transplant. He thanked the Pulido family and his life has been transformed since his kidney transplant. “I have the strength to keep working, and the most important thing is that I am healthy enough to raise my son,” he said.
Madrigal made a point to thank the Illinois Transplant Fund for its role in his kidney transplant. The ITF provides financial assistance in the form of insurance premium support to qualified patients in need. Without this assistance, many people like Madrigal would not qualify to receive an organ transplant.
Juana Hortensia Rodriguez of Chicago also received a kidney from Jonathan. Three years of kidney dialysis had been taking its toll on the 41-year-old wife and mother of four before she received a transplant. Rodriguez expressed her heartfelt thanks to the Pulidos and said she sees life differently now. “It is only when we are in situations like this that we understand and value things that we have taken for granted,” she said. “I never thought I would need a transplant. Now my husband and I are registered as donors, and we talk about it to all of our friends and family.”
Gift of Hope President/CEO Kevin Cmunt presented Gift of Hope’s Supporting the Gift Award to Loren Chandler, President of Mount Sinai Hospital and Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Sinai Health System, Michele Mazurek, RN, Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer at the hospital, and Gary Merlotti, MD, Chairman of Mount Sinai’s Surgery Department.
Cmunt cited Mount Sinai for helping Gift of Hope rewrite stories of tragedy into stories of triumph. “Thank you to the staff at Mount Sinai for your hard work and for partnering with Gift of Hope so that more lives can be saved through the selfless gift of organ and tissue donation,” he said.
The award illustrates the good work that Mount Sinai and Gift of Hope do together to help people make a difficult decision in the face of a tragedy, Chandler said. “Hearing the stories of the Pulidos and the two people who received Jonathan’s lifesaving gifts was very touching, and it underscored the sacrifice families make to save the lives of others when they choose donation.”
Dr. Merlotti said his team members receive deep satisfaction from their involvement in donation cases. “Nothing is more gratifying than saving a patient with critical injuries, but when lethal injuries are involved it helps makes some sense of the loss when lives are saved through organ and tissue donation.”